An Auckland man has been charged with strangulation after a family harm incident on Monday, the first arrest under new legislation.

The new strangulation or suffocation offence, introduced on Monday, carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Previously there was no separate offence for strangulation as it was treated as assault.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Ellwood said the 21-year-old Counties Manukau man was the first person to be arrested under the new legislation.

"The fact it has been used so soon after being introduced shows how important this new legislation will be in preventing family harm and keeping our community safe.


"We know that strangulation is a serious risk marker in family harm situations.

"There is obviously significant risk to victims, and it is often a precursor for more serious violence, including homicide."

The changes are part of the Family Violence Amendment Act, replacing the Domestic Violence Act, and are designed to help curb family violence. The legislation was spearheaded by the former National government and passed unanimously last month.

Ellwood said the maximum seven year sentence reflected the seriousness of the offending.

The new family violence legislation also allowed victims of family violence offending to have their Victim Video Statements played in court.

Ellwood said the victim in this case also gave a video statement. Victim Video Statements have now been used over 1300 times across the Auckland region.

Police will no longer have to apply to court to have these interviews played on behalf of victims, Ellwood said.

"This new way of recording a victim's statement has been a success.


"We have seen a vastly improved victim experience, a large reduction in the time taken to take a statement, and a significant improvement in the quality of the evidence police are gathering.

"The new family harm offences, the use of victim video statements, and the law change making it easier to play these statements in court, will help us hold offenders to account.

"Family violence continues to remain a significant issue for far too many New Zealanders and we are committed to reducing the harm it causes.

"Police attend over 100 thousand family harm events a year, and we know that the holiday season can mean higher rates of violence."

Anyone who is experiencing or witnessing family harm is encouraged to speak up and seek help.

The man charged in this case appeared in the Manukau District Court on Tuesday, December 4 , and has been remanded to reappear on December 20.