Lionel Patea has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Kiwi-born Tara Brown, his ex-partner and mother of his child.

Justice Debra Mullins handed down the sentence in front of a packed public gallery including Brown's mother, siblings and other family and friends.

Patea stood in the dock with his cuffed hands clasped in front of him.

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He did not show any emotion as Justice Mullins read through the ghastly details of the murder - which he claims he cannot remember committing.

He did not react at all when he was sentenced.

Five court security guards stood between the dock and the public gallery.

"Miss Brown was the fatal victim of your domestic violence," Justice Mullins told Patea.

"She will not now have the joy of seeing her daughter grow up... Your daughter has been deprived of her love and nurture of her mother."

Justice Mullins revealed Patea had written a letter to the court expressing remorse.

However that had no bearing on the sentence.

"You have to live every day of your life knowing that you deprived Ms Brown of her life," she said.

Justice Mullins said it was important for her to hand down a sentence that not only protects the community from Patea but deterred him and others from similar offending in future.

Patea was also sentenced for breaching a protection order that was in place to keep Brown safe from him.

Justice Mullins said it was "the worst example of that type of offence".

Brown's family emerged from the court house and spoke briefly to the media.

Her mother Natalie Hinton and her partner Jonathan Gardner said they were relieved the court ordeal was over.

Gardner said the process had been stressful.

Hinton said she wanted people to learn from her daughter's death.

She said anyone experience domestic violence should speak up.

"Seek help, help is out there," she said.

"And remember Tara."