A Rotorua man has pleaded guilty to murdering his wife at Ngakuru in November last year.

Michael Edward Douthett, 58, appeared in the High Court at Rotorua before Justice Graham Lang this morning.

Police at the scene in Ngakuru last year. Photo / File
Police at the scene in Ngakuru last year. Photo / File

The public gallery was full of family members and friends of his late wife 50-year-old Patricia Douthett (nee Wallis), who died on November 26.

Teenagers in the gallery began to cry as Michael Douthett entered his pleas and was convicted of murder and dangerous driving.

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He did not turn to face the gallery throughout his appearance, and kept his eyes to the front of the court.

Michael Douthett had earlier pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and there was discussion about whether he was fit to stand trial, and whether defence of insanity was available to him.

He had been remanded into a mental health facility, the Henry Bennett Centre.

Rosie Wallis, Patricia Douthett's sister, told the Rotorua Daily Post the family was relieved by the guilty plea.

"We all miss Trish terribly and she has left a huge hole in all of our lives, especially her children's."

At the time of Patricia Douthett's death, police confirmed Michael Douthett was involved in a crash with a logging truck nearby on the same morning.

Police were called to the murder scene in the small farming community south of Rotorua at 7.15am.

Police at the Ngakuru property. Photo / File
Police at the Ngakuru property. Photo / File

At 7.30am, police were called to a crash on State Highway 30, between the intersections of Nicholson Rd and Yak Rd, at Horohoro.

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Police said a truck and logging truck collided but, despite both vehicles being badly damaged, no one was hurt.

At the time of Patricia Douthett's death, a Ngakuru resident who would not be identified said she was a hard worker who lived for her animals.

Police at the scene in Ngakuru last year. Photo / File
Police at the scene in Ngakuru last year. Photo / File

He said the Ngakuru community was "tight knit" and there would be people Patricia worked with who would be shattered by the news.

A reporter at the scene at the time said examiners in boiler suits were at the front of the property and going between the house and cars there.

A blue tent could be seen on the lawn but it was not clearly visible from the road.

Michael Douthett was remanded in custody to appear for sentencing on August 29.