The man who died at a Papatoetoe house after apparently killing his wife and critically injuring their toddler was facing prison time for earlier family violence offending.

And his wife's bereft family have spoken, begging other women living with domestic violence to speak out, stand up and seek help.

They never want to see another family face the heartache they've been struggling with — which they say was totally preventable.

Sherine Nath, 32, and Riki Nath, 34, were found dead at a house on Sunnyside Cres on December 30.

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Police found Sherine inside with her son, who was critically injured. The little boy, who cannot legally be named, is said to be slowly recovering at Starship children's hospital.

Riki Nath was found dead in the garage of the home a short time later.

The deaths have been referred to the coroner.

Her family told the Herald that Sherine "was loved by everyone".

"She had the most bubbliest, beautiful character."

The Herald can now reveal she had been granted a protection order against her husband of 14 years shortly before her violent death.

Nath was due to be sentenced in the Manukau District Court on January 23 for an earlier attack on his family. Court documents provided to the Herald by the presiding judge outline the full facts of the case.

Nath pleaded guilty to one charge of injuring Sherine with intent to injure and another of threatening to injure their son. He was facing a maximum period of three years in prison for the offending.

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The police summary of facts said the attack took place on February 28 last year at the Sunnyside Cres home where they both lived.

About 8pm Nath became angry because Sherine had not told him where she went after work several days earlier.

Sherine was sitting on her bed with her son and Nath walked in and grabbed her by the roots of her hair, pulling her face close to his own.

He demanded she tell him where she had gone after work.

"The defendant held the victim's hair tight and head butted her in the forehead once, causing her to stumble backwards," police said.

Sherine Nath.
Sherine Nath.

"The victim reached down and held her son on the bed in an attempt to protect him."

Nath shut the bedroom door so their flatmate would not hear any noise. He then ran at his wife and kicked her upper back.

"[Nath] threatened the victim that if she were to leave him, he would harm their son and himself," the police summary said.

Sherine did not go to police immediately. Her sister Sagrika Kumar told the Herald that Sherine told her family about the attack in March.

"We took her to the doctor's Woman's family urge violence victims to seek aid straight away as she had massive bruises on her back," Kumar said. "We then reported this to the police."

Sherine moved home with her parents that day and a protection order was granted to keep Nath away from her and the child.

Kumar said her sister's relationship with Nath was "up and down".

But she only spoke about the domestic violence after the attack for which Nath was charged.

"We were all so worried for her," said Kumar. "We definitely did not want her going back to him ...

"We were also advised by police not to go back to Riki that day so Sherine and [her son] had both moved into our family home."

Kumar said her sister was relieved to be away from her violent husband.

"She was fine and happy, every opportunity she found she spent it with our family and [her son].

"We'd often go out for meals, go for swims and to the park together."

But Kumar said Nath "manipulated" her sister over a period of time to "come back".

He twisted her into changing the protection order and she moved back to Papatoetoe shortly before her death.

Kumar said when police told her family Sherine had been killed and her son was fighting for his life, they were "shocked".

"When hearing the news we were very shattered and stood in disbelief," Kumar said.

"Our family stood together despite being so heartbroken and found strength through [Sherine's son], and prayed for his recovery.

Police at the scene on Papatoetoe's Sunnyside Crescent where Riki and Sherine Nath died. Photo / Dean Purcell
Police at the scene on Papatoetoe's Sunnyside Crescent where Riki and Sherine Nath died. Photo / Dean Purcell

"We were overwhelmed by everything but so grateful our little boy was here fighting and has made it through."

Kumar said she and Sherine's two other sisters had not left the toddler's side. "[He] is recovering well," she said.

"All the best people in the medical sector are looking after him and he is well assured by their hands as well as everyone's prayers and blessings that have been sent in.

"Us sisters have stayed with him by his side and recovery since day one — praying and being there for him, always talking to him and reassuring him he is not alone and is surrounded by loved ones.

"The little one is the centre of our family now and we are all wanting the best for him.

"Sherine loved him more than anything and she has left her soul — her son — behind and we as a family have promised our sister and daughter that we will look out and love [him] just as she did."

Kumar said the little boy had "lightened our heart" since his mother's death. "He has given us so much strength during this time and we see Sherine through him," she said.

"And every time he says he loves us and hugs us it definitely takes our pain away of losing our loved one."

Riki Nath.
Riki Nath.

Kumar said her sister was "courageous" and she urged other women to do whatever it took to keep themselves safe if they were living with violence.

"A request from our family is to please stand up and take action if you are going through this situation yourself," she told the Herald.

"A tragedy as big as this has hit us hard and this is the worst outcome that can happen regarding domestic violence and we definitely do not want anyone else to go through [a] situation as heartbreaking as this.

"There are many organisations that stand up against domestic violence and once you have [sought] help it is important to not go back to your previous partner.

"I know there is a fear in speaking up in certain communities, fearing that the issue would spread house-to-house rather than [be] resolved."

The court documents reveal that as part of the protection order Nath was directed to undertake an assessment and attend an appropriate non-violence programme "as soon as practicable".

The only person that could reverse or revoke the order or have the particulars amended was Sherine.

Nath had never appeared before the courts before.

He was born and raised in Fiji and moved to New Zealand in 2006, where he met Sherine.

Get help

•Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day — 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz

•Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 — 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz

•Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 58