The jury in the trial of a man accused of historical sexual abuse against his daughter and niece have been told to keep an open mind while hearing the evidence.

The Hawke's Bay man, who cannot be named, is standing trial in the Napier District Court after pleading not guilty to 11 charges of molesting his daughter and niece more than four decades ago.

Yesterday the jury of seven males and five females were told by the man's defence lawyer Bill Calver the charges were historical, the oldest dating back 46 years.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to rape, attempted rape, four charges of indecency with a girl aged between 12 and 16 and five charges of indecency with a girl under 12 years old. Most of the charges are representative.

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In her opening address, Crown prosecutor Jo Rielly said the daughter's account of events was that the defendant began molesting her when she was a young child, often telling her to go to her bedroom while other adults weren't around.

"She said he would tell her to be quiet and never to tell anyone, especially not mum."

The prosecutor said he would perform sexual acts on her on a regular basis, normally around bedtime, and that these acts progressed to what she would later learn was sexual intercourse.

"She would pick a spot on the ceiling and look at it while this was happening until it finished," Ms Rielly said.

Calver told the jury to wait until they had heard all of the evidence before making up their minds.

"The defence in this case is quite simple; [the defendant] is not a child molester. He didn't interfere with his daughter, he did not interfere with his niece and by the way he did not attempt to interfere with his granddaughter."

The court was told the jury would hear from the defendant's granddaughter, one of the complainant's daughters, as a propensity witness in support of the Crown's case.

The alleged offending was said to have occurred in Auckland and Hawke's Bay between the early 1970s and 80s; a timeframe that came to the fore when the defendant's niece was called as a witness yesterday afternoon.

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The court had heard the woman was molested by the defendant in the bed she slept in when visiting his home in the school holidays, often on occasions when other adults had left the property to play housie.

"She remembers waking to him pulling the covers off ... and putting his hand down the front [of] her pants and underwear ... she said she would lie still with her eyes closed because she was frightened," Rielly said.

In cross-examination, Calver put to the woman that what she alleged occurred at the man's home when she was 12 years old could not have happened as property records showed the house wasn't built until she was at least 14.

The woman said she couldn't remember, having earlier recalled being touched when she was 12.

The court heard the woman hadn't told anyone about what had happened despite seeing the defendant several times in the years that followed her childhood.

"I haven't really spoken a lot about it ... I haven't told her [the defendant's daughter] anything at all about what he'd done to me. I haven't told anybody. My children don't even know and some of them are adults."

The trial is set down for the remainder of the week with the Crown set to call five witnesses, including the defendant's ex-wife.