In the early hours of a mid-winter morning 17 years ago with frost lying heavily on the ground, Rotorua truck driver Karl Nyman was shot at by a man hired to kill him.

That is the basis of the Crown case against Tauranga man Warren Uata Kiwi, 58, whose trial began today in the High Court at Rotorua.

He has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with others to murder Nyman and attempting to murder him.

The first charge relates to a period from April 30 and July 31, 2002, the attempted murder charge is dated July 31 the same year.

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Opening the Crown's case, prosecutor Chris Macklin outlined how a plot had been hatched for Kiwi to kill Nyman, in return, he would be rewarded with five pounds (2.27kg) of cannabis.

Macklin said neither Kiwi nor Nyman knew each other but a few months earlier Kiwi was told by a man, who has not yet been identified, that he had a job for him if he was keen for some cannabis.

"He was informed he was to 'take out' this man, kill him, murder him," Macklin told the jury.

It had been largely left up to Kiwi how he would commit the murder. He and his brother talked about obtaining a .22 semi-automatic rifle from their father. This weapon was later recovered from the shooting scene.

Macklin described how Kiwi and his brother had driven from Tauranga to Nyman's Rotorua home where the defendant waited in bushes nearby.

It was 4.30am when Nyman headed for his truck parked outside his home.

A voice rang out saying "wait right there", Macklin said. He described a tussle between the men and how at one point Nyman had been able to grab the gunman's balaclava.

As he attempted to get back into his home, he heard a crack and realised he had been shot in the arm.

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The two tussled again before Kiwi apologised, saying he had got the wrong house, and sped off in a car parked nearby.

The trail had gone cold until 2013 when it was learned Kiwi had talked to someone about that day. Four years later he was found, interviewed by police and subsequently charged.

A police inquiry into the identity of those involved in the alleged conspiracy is ongoing, the prosecutor said.

In a brief opening statement, Kiwi's lawyer Gene Tomlinson said it was not Kiwi but his brother Graeme who had pulled the trigger when Nyman was shot.

He claimed there was an eight-minute hiatus in a two-part police DVD interview with Kiwi during which detectives talked to him but their conversation was not recorded. It was after that Kiwi admitted he had been involved, having previously denied it.

"You will need to decide what part of the interview to rely on," he instructed jurors.

The trial before Justice Pheroze Jagose and a jury of four men and eight women is set down for two weeks.