A man who punched his partner in the face and smashed several windows will make up for his actions with community work.

David Wayne Taku had been in an on-off relationship with the complainant for 17 years and they had five children together, Whanganui District Court was told on Tuesday.

On August 20, Taku and the complainant were drinking together when they started arguing. They moved outside and continued arguing on the street.

Taku punched her in the face, causing her to fall to the ground.

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He then fled on foot, returning later when he smashed a window to gain access to the house before going through it smashing items. The house was a Housing NZ property.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Drew Morrison said the complainant suffered bruising to her eye and a graze from her fall. Taku pleaded guilty to male assaults female and wilful damage.

Defence lawyer Anna Brosnahan said Taku had an "unhelpful history", but none of this type of offending. She said her client was self-referred to alcohol and drug counselling.

Judge David Cameron said it was a "nasty incident", and sentenced Taku to 150 hours of community work and six months of supervision, and ordered him to pay $250 reparation for the windows.