A man has been arrested three months after the 3-year-old daughter of a New Zealander was raped and murdered in Brazil.

Agence France-Presse reported that New Zealander Karl Paroli's daughter was killed while he and his Brazilian partner were on holiday in a gated beach community last December.

Brazilian news website Teixeira News said a 24 year-old called Luzinei Araújo Santos had been arrested for the crimes.

Another website, Correio, claimed Luzinei went down on his knees and confessed to police.

Mr Paroli criticised Brazilian police for the delay and told AFP that the head of the local military police near Trancoso had blocked attempts to have the crime investigated.

"The guy should not be a policeman. He should be selling coconuts on the beach," Mr Paroli told AFP.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been made aware of the case and embassy staff in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, have been liaising with authorities.

MFAT spokeswoman Lucy Taylor said the family was supported.

Mr Paroli told AFP that he had been told to keep quiet about the murder of his three year-old daughter Cloe but the case attracted attention from the local media after Mr Paroli and his partner spoke out about their struggle for justice.

He told the news agency that he had found his daughter's body by a river near the house they had been staying in.

Mr Paroli said he had tried to revive his daughter but was unsuccessful.

After Cloe had been formally declared dead at hospital, Mr Paroli said as he cleaned his daughter's body he discovered signs she had been raped.

AFP reported that doctors refused to conduct an autopsy without police permission. "It was all just unbelievable," Mr Paroli said.

He told the news agency that his brother, a policeman in New Zealand, flew over to help but left in frustration after what he saw.

AFP reports that a Brazilian TV news programme used an undercover camera during an interview with the local police chief.

The head of the military police blamed Mr Paroli and his partner for what happened to Cloe because she was left to play in the garden while Mr Paroli had a sleep.

The officer also said he did not have the resources to investigate all the murders in his district and that the case had only attracted attention because Mr Paroli was a foreigner.

However after the programme aired and enquiries were made by the New Zealand embassy, the tourism police took on the case.

Ms Taylor said embassy staff are not able to conduct their own inquiries or "interfere" with the judicial process of another country.

She said because the case was before a court, she could not comment further.

Mr Paroli has praised the tourism police, describing them as "awesome heroes" after they solved the case in a matter of days.