A teenager accused of murdering a Flaxmere man did not do it deliberately, his lawyer has told a High Court in Napier.

Haami Hanara , 14, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Kelly Donner and is on trial in the High Court in Napier before Justice Peter Churchman.

The trial started on Monday and is expected to end next week. The Crown alleges Hanara fatally stabbed Donner, 40, after an argument over a torch in the Flaxmere Tavern carpark on March 4.

Defence counsel Eric Forster told the jury, before Hanara gave evidence, that his client's defence would be that "Haami did not do it deliberately".

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"At the outset we can simply see Haami was holding the knife when Kelly Donner received the wounds in his throat, one to the shoulder area and one to chest area," he told the jury.

"What the defence is in a nut shell, is that Haami did not do it deliberately."

"Just because Kelly Donner died, that doesn't mean anyone intended for him to die."

Forster also noted that Hanara had cognitive difficulties.

"It's tough for an adult to give evidence; it's even tougher when you're a focus on everyone's eyes. It's harder here because Haami's 14, but it will become quickly apparent to you that he has his difficulties, cognitively."

Hanara gave evidence beside a communications adviser who assisted him to understand the court proceedings.

Forster spoke slowly and clearly to Hanara as he asked him about what occurred on the night of March 4.

Hanara told Forster that he and a group of youths tried to break into the chiller in the Flaxmere Tavern yard but were not successful.

They then turned their attention to a van parked in the yard and broke in through a passenger window.

Donner was already in the yard and was searching through a skip bin looking for cigarette butts. The Crown has previously said Donner was known to "sleep rough" around the Flaxmere village.

Hanara said he asked Donner for the torch he was using and gave it to another youth who was attempting to hot wire the van.

Donner asked Hanara for the torch back, but the other youth was still using it.

"He started getting aggressive, he was yelling."

The trial continues.