Massey stabbing: Victim came to NZ for a better life, ex-partner was ‘fixated’ with it

A woman who was stabbed to death had come to New Zealand for a better life but while here her ex-partner became “fixated” with it, a court has heard.

Manchao Li, 65, denies murdering Zhimin Yang, 57, and breaching a protection order.

Li’s jury trial started yesterday in the High Court at Auckland.

The Crown alleges Li repeatedly stabbed his former partner, also known as Jennifer, in a daylight attack in Massey on July 29 last year.

He allegedly had been following her and then attacked her from behind while she was waiting for a bus on Westgate Drive.

Crown prosecutor Nick Webby said Yang was stabbed her 12 times across her head, neck, chest, stomach and arms with a hunting knife.

The blows sliced into a major artery in her neck and a major vein in her body.

Today the victim’s son told the court Yang had come to New Zealand after reading about the culture and environment to have a better life.

That was one of her motivations for learning English, the young man said.

The court heard in the early 2000s, Li teamed up with Auckland Act MP Kenneth Wang to present a petition to parliament urging harsher penalties for lower level crimes.

About this time, Yang’s son said Yang and Li’s relationship deteriorated and the latter would raise his voice in arguments.

The victim’s son said he would cry alone in his bedroom because he feared for his mother’s safety.

“I was too young. I felt very very helpless,” he said.

Later, the boy and his mum would quietly exchange words in the bedroom. She would say that when he grew up he had to make her proud, he said.

“As if that was the only hope because her life was in trouble.”

After they separated, Li came to Yang’s Avondale home and there was a loud argument, the court heard.

Yang’s son recalled her saying they had to leave right away and they ended up in a safe house.

Around the same time she sought a protection order, he said.

“The basis for the order was threatening to kill.”

Yang and Li married in China in 1997 before moving in 2001 to New Zealand where they bought a property in Blockhouse Bay.

They separated in 2005 and divorced in 2009.

In 2016 a High Court judge determined Li had bought a Christchurch property using proceeds of the Blockhouse Bay sale and he was ordered to sell the Christchurch house so his ex-wife could recoup her half of the relationship property.

Li’s former Kingsdale Rd flatmate told the court this afternoon that Li was fixated with the fact this former partner had found a good job.

He said Li had told him life would be better if Yang was no longer on the planet.

Li had even shown his flatmate weapons that he was “sort of proud of” and talked about wanting to disfigure his ex-wife.

The flatmate said he repeatedly counselled against violence and warned Li would end up in prison.

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