The alleged murderer of a 5-year-old boy has appeared before a full public gallery this morning.
Five-year-old Ferro-James Tiopira Sio died in Rotorua Hospital on February 8.
On February 18, the boy's father, 24-year-old William James Sio, was charged with murder and ill-treatment/neglect of a child. Leza Rawiri, 28, was charged with ill-treatment/neglect of a child.
William Sio appeared in person wearing a blue boiler suit before Judge Greg Hollister-Jones in the Rotorua District Court this morning.
The public gallery was full of Ferro-James' whānau and five police staff stood in uniform beside them.
Sio was initially charged with assault of a child and first appeared in the Rotorua District Court on February 10.
Police said further charges were "likely" at the time.
This morning the assault charge was formally withdrawn.
He was remanded in custody to appear in the High Court at Rotorua on March 13.
A member of the public slammed the door as she left the court after Sio's appearance.
Rawiri, the co-defendant, appeared via audiovisual link from custody.
She hid her face from the screen.
Defence counsel Moana Dorset told the court Ferro-James was not Rawiri's son.
Rawiri was remanded in custody to reappear with her co-accused in the High Court on March 13.
Police and forensics scientists cordoned off the house on Union St, Victoria, on the weekend of Ferro-James' death and a post-mortem examination was carried out.
About 100 people gathered for a vigil for Ferro-James at Jean Batten Square in Rotorua on February 16.
Ferro-James' whānau from Rotorua and Tauranga were supported by fellow attendees.
Earlier that day Man Up also held a Ride for Hope to acknowledge the child's death.
At the time, Oranga Tamariki's northern deputy chief executive for services for children and families, Glynis Sandland, said: "The death of this little boy is extremely distressing".