A Hamilton teenager who fatally stabbed a man during a scuffle over a car break-in has been sentenced.

The 16-year-old was found guilty of unlawfully killing 54-year-old Norman Kingi after a brief, but fatal, confrontation late on July 28 last year.

The teenager, who has permanent name suppression, was with two other teenagers when the stabbing occurred.

One co-accused had charges dropped while the other, aged 14, was found not guilty at the trial in October.

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The teenagers had spent the previous few hours breaking into cars before arriving on Ranui St.

After a brief confrontation the older girl stabbed Kingi in the heart with a knife outside Kingi's home on Ranui St before fleeing with the 14-year-old.

They were found a short time later by police.

After acknowledging the whanau of both Kingi and the teenager, Justice Timothy Brewer told them no sentence he imposed would bring him back and offered his sympathies.

Several victim impact statements were also read to the court.

Vicki Reihana spoke of how she had struggled to continue after losing her soul mate.

In her statement, read by Crown prosecutor Philip Morgan QC, she said her partner was her backbone and without him she now struggled to breathe without him by her side.

"I still cry sad, silent tears at night for my amazing life that we had ... some times I reach over at night and then realise that it's real, this nightmare is real."

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She said the three girls who broke into their car that night would never know how much they loved each other and how much impact his death had on their whanau.

Without Kingi's whanau by her side she said she would have struggled to continue.

She described him as a man who worked hard and played hard and had a great work ethic, as well as being a lover of country music, sports and his children and grandchildren.

Inscribed on his gravestone were the words, "if he loved you, he loved you well".

"What more can I say," she said.

The teen's lawyer Ron Mansfield urged the judge to let her serve her sentence in a youth detention facility where she would initially go until aged 18.

There was no dispute as to what happened that night and six weeks prior to the trial she did acknowledge causing his death and wanted to plead guilty to manslaughter.

That was eventually turned down by the Crown but Mansfield said his client was still entitled to a 20 per cent discount on her sentence for the prior admission.

He said the teen felt a sense of loyalty to return and try to persuade the adults to let her friend go.

"But from that point on everything went terribly wrong."

She then acted in an impulsive and dangerous way and did not intend to cause Kingi's death.

The teen had also been regarded as being at a low risk of reoffending.

In assessing the seriousness of her actions that night, Justice Brewer said he accepted both what the Crown and defence was saying but found that there was a reasonable possibility that she did feel that she might be grabbed by Kingi and "give you a hiding".

"Your actions were not thought out in advance. Your actions were not deliberate in the sense that you had not set out to stab Mr Kingi."

He described the scene as "a quickly changing and very tense environment".

"It was dark, there was shouting and your [friend] was being physically restrained."

He took a starting point of six years' prison before offering discounts for her upbringing and that she was at a rebellious point in her life; she was sick of school, describing it as "dumb", had been wagging a lot and had come into contact with local "trouble makers" who taught her how to break into cars which she thought was "cool".

He handed down a 35 per cent discount for her youth, 15 per cent for an offer of a manslaughter guilty plea prior to trial and a further five months for time spent on electronically-monitored bail.

He arrived at an end sentence of two years and 11 months jail.

Justice Brewer also granted her permanent name suppression.