A young woman has testified that her grandmother used to give her a choice between being beaten or having her head shaved as a form of punishment.
The grandmother, 64, who has interim name suppression, is standing trial in the Napier District Court after pleading not guilty to 22 charges relating to child abuse and neglect over a 10-year period.
She appeared on Monday in front on Judge Bridget Mackintosh and a jury of 10 women and two men.
She denied four charges of cruelty of a child, four of ill-treatment of a child, four of assault on a child, four charges of assault, three charges of assault with intent to injure, three of injuring with intent to injure, and one assault with a weapon.
The alleged offending occurred in Napier and Hastings.
The complainants in the case are three of the defendant's granddaughters and one niece.
The three granddaughters were 7, 6 and 4 years old when they came into their grandmother's care, an arrangement formalised by Child, Youth and Family.
Their father died after the three sisters went into their grandmother's care.
Crown prosecutor Lara Marshall said during her opening statement that the four complainants in the case were subjected to child abuse over a prolonged period.
She said the complainants were subject to both physical and emotional abuse over the period, which began when they moved in with the accused in July 2007 and ended in 2017.
The first complainant to give evidence told the jury how within two weeks of arriving in her grandmother's care in 2007, she and her sisters had their heads shaved, her grandmother saying it was due to lice.
She said her grandmother used to give the children the option of being beaten or having their heads shaved as a form of punishment.
She said she and her siblings were beaten regularly, saying her grandmother used to smile while she did it.
"I remember the smile the most, you knew she enjoyed it and she fed off your fear."
She said the siblings were kept home from school when they had visible bruises.
During cross examination, defence lawyer Scott Jefferson, who declined to make an opening statement, questioned the complainants' claims.
He said head lice was a reasonable explanation for shaving the girls' heads, arguing that in a house with three girls with long hair, lice could be an ongoing issue.
He said if the victim had been beaten as she said she had, she would have spent weeks off school recovering from injuries.
He also said the defendant had got the girls involved with activities, such as drama and swimming.
A second complainant said she was punched in the face because she had a boyfriend and refused to break up with him.
She also recalled being hit by a guitar in the back of the head in front of her father's grave, because she was not singing loudly enough.
The trial is expected to last until Wednesday.