A woman on trial for allegedly making a false rape complaint "pointed the police in the direction of her ex-husband".

The defendant, who has name suppression, appeared yesterday in the Invercargill District Court and pleaded not guilty to a charge of making a false statement relating to an incident on May 14, 2015.

On that date, she said she was sexually assaulted at her home.

Crown prosecutor Georgia Woodward said, in her opening address, the defendant rang the police and said a man came into her home and sexually assaulted her with a piece of driftwood.

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The same day, she gave her statement to a detective about the alleged sexual violation.

Woodward said the defendant, in her first statement, said a man came into her house, punched her in the face and forced her to the ground.

He allegedly held a knife to her throat, ripped off her pants and violated her with a piece of driftwood. The defendant told the police the man was wearing a black ski mask and she did not recognise him.

The Crown said despite saying she did not know who had attacked her, she "carefully painted" the attacker as someone who knew her and had a grudge against her.

"She carefully and purposefully pointed the police in the direction of her ex-husband as an attacker."

Police discovered a "number of contradictions" between her claims and evidence.

Mrs Woodward said a year later, in August 2016, the defendant admitted to police she had made up the entire allegation.

The defendant described the attacker as her ex-husband because "she wanted him to get in trouble" and this was not the first time she had lied about violence from her ex-husband, Woodward said.

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"The jury will need to decide whether the defendant was lying when she claimed she was raped."

The Crown would call 11 witnesses.

Defence counsel Roger Eagles said the central allegation made by his client was true and the retraction was wrong.

He said there could be many circumstances which might cause a woman to her retract her statement.

"The defence case is that they are many and various."

Eagles said the Crown should satisfy the jury beyond reasonable doubt as to whether the complaint made was false.

"You need to have a clear view about this whole matter until the end of the case."

The jury watched a video of the defendant's interview and heard the phone call to police, in which she said she opened the door because the man told her he was from the police.