A woman who stabbed her partner in the neck, slashing his jugular with a butcher's knife, was "scared" and "angry" as a physical fight the pair were having escalated.

Teneshiah Puhinahina Patangata was sentenced for the manslaughter of her partner, Peter Haimona Savage, in the High Court at Hamilton.

Justice Mathew Downs jailed her for five years, a sentence that she will have to serve in full as the manslaughter conviction was her second qualifying violence offence under the three strikes law.

Her first was also for an incident in 2010 when she stabbed a person in the back and shoulder and was convicted of injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

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In court today, Patangata, 27, was overcome with emotion as Haimona Savage's family, including his mother, spoke of their despair at having lost such a loved family member.

Haimona Savage's mother, Helen Sisley, said pain her son would have suffered which would "haunt me for the rest of my life".

"Since you have gone, I have been an emotional wreck. I have sleepless nights ... there is not a moment in each day that I don't think about you and wish that you were here.

"I have a broken heart now that you have gone. There is such a big void that you have left."

She also spoke of her angst for her son's young daughter who would now grow up without him and never get to be held in his arms again.

Haimona Savage was killed after a brief yet fatal fight with his partner at a party in Taupiri during the early hours of New Year's Day, 2018.

The couple, who had been together for two years at the time, were drinking with other family and friends and according to witnesses who gave evidence at Patangata's trial, they had been getting on well that and was an "excellent" stepfather to her four children.

However, as the night went on the pair drank more and argued. The argument escalated to the point where Patangata slapped him in the face.

The pair then hit each other; Haimona Savage twice kicked her legs and grabbed her briefly around the throat.

They were standing by a wall near a barbecue and it was then that Patangata reached up, grabbed the knife and thrust it into his neck so deep it cut his the jugular vein, artery and ended up in his fifth vertebrae.

Patangata then sat and held him as he died in her arms. Members of his family tried to save him

Crown prosecutor Louella Dunn urged the judge issue an uplift of 10- 12 months' jail for her previous offending with knives and said it was clear that her behaviour was escalating.

Patangata's lawyer Marie Dyhrberg QC described the fight that led to the 26-year-old's death as "very fast-moving, short incident".

"It wasn't prolonged or pre-meditated ... the remorse is genuine in this case and that was immediately after and in hindsight."

She said her client did have insight into her offending and planned to make the most of rehabilitative programmes in prison.

Justice Downs said there was no real domestic violence history between the pair, despite several callouts to their home, they were more for "verbal arguments" and not physical ones.

He also noted how she "advanced many defences", varying from self defence, not knowing who had stabbed him to him stabbing himself.

He said the knife wasn't on her, she had to reach up behind her then wield it down on his neck.

"True, you had been drinking, but not so much that you didn't know what you were doing."

She had given a "clear recollection of events" to police both before and after the stabbing. but then claimed to not know he died.

"That sat awkwardly with an otherwise detailed, timely and apparently reliable account."

The denial also did not reconcile against her record of using knives on people after she had been drinking, he said.

He said she was "undeserving" of an additional discount for remorse - given she took the charge to trial - and after setting a starting point of six years and giving discounts for her circumstances, age and time served on electronic bail, Justice Downs arrived at an end point of five years' jail.