An argument over the state of a Whanganui couple's relationship led to the man choking his partner.

Hohepa Cadwallader and Hine Whareaorere began arguing about their relationship on July 27, and words soon turned into Cadwallader wrapping his fingers around his partner's throat.

Judge David Cameron said Cadwallader pushed Whareaorere on to the bed, then held her against a wall when she tried to get away. When he let her go, Whareaorere walked out of the room, and the argument turned to custody of their 3-month-old child.

She tried to grab the baby from Cadwallader, who refused to hand the child over, so she went outside and smashed Cadwallader's car windows with a wheel brace "in an effort to force him to hand over the baby".


Cadwallader's mother then took the baby, Judge Cameron said.

The fight between Cadwallader and Whareaorere continued, with Cadwallader punching her in the face and knocking her to the ground.

Another argument erupted between the couple on September 2, this time about money, the judge said. Whareaorere threw a bowl at a nearby wall, and Cadwallader punched her in the nose, causing it to bleed.

"The victim tried to hit back, but kept missing," Judge Cameron said.

Whareaorere left the sleepout they were in, then returned to find Cadwallader throwing her washing out the back window. She found an axe and swung it at Cadwallader, but he managed to catch it and force her to the ground. Cadwallader then dragged Whareaorere across the floor by her hair, at which point her sister intervened.

A short time later, Whareaorere tried to take the baby from Cadwallader, who refused. She then assaulted him with a mug, and he put her into a head lock, forcing her to the ground, Judge Cameron said.

Cadwallader strangled his partner until the sister again intervened. Once the sister left, Cadwallader again put his hands on Whareaorere's throat and squeezed for about 30 seconds, until the sister again saw and intervened.

Cadwallader held Whareaorere in a bear hug, and she bit him on the arm, after which he tried to again strangle her, but failed when Whareaorere scratched his face. He then stomped on her head, which the sister saw.

Cadwallader pleaded guilty in the Whanganui District Court on Thursday to assaulting with intent to injure, and male assaults female, while Whareaorere pleaded guilty to wilful damage.

Cadwallader's defence lawyer, Harete Hipango, said her client "faces the court fully cognisant of a sentence, whatever the sentence may be". She said he felt "deep remorse" for the offending. He has no criminal history.

Cadwallader told Hipango "that he needs to learn and deprogramme from what he has been exposed to".

She said the couple loved each other and were committed to working on their relationship, and attending programmes to help. Cadwallader is 22, while his partner is 20. The pair had a Restorative Justice conference, and have both agreed to attend a family violence programme.

Cadwallader was sentenced to 150 hours' community work and nine months' supervision, while Whareaorere received a nine-month supervision term.