A New Zealand woman ripped off part of a man’s earlobe during a church meeting in Palmerston North, after she became enraged by the dishes not being done.

Ateliana Lei Malu, 52, pleaded guilty in Palmerston North District Court yesterday to a count of assaulting with intent to injure a fellow parishioner.

On March 13, Malu was at a meeting at a Vogel St church with seven other parishioners, said police prosecutor Murray Lyons.

The group members had known each other for about 10 years, but Malu became agitated after mentioning the dishes were not being done following a Sunday service.

“She then stood up and apologised to the group,” Lyons said. “She then walked over and grabbed the victim by the hair.”

Malu wrestled the man to the ground, where she scratched her fingernails down his face, elbowed him in the face, and continued to pull his hair, the court heard. Other parishioners pulled Malu off the victim, but she lashed out again ripping off part of his earlobe.

The man suffered a black eye, scratches on his face and needed a chunk of his earlobe stitched back on.

Defence lawyer Mike Ryan said there was a possibility Malu and the victim could reconcile. He asked Judge David Smith if an attempt at restorative justice would be appropriate.

Judge Smith agreed that reconciliation was a good idea.

“This assault is a serious one and one that can’t be dealt with lightly,” he said.

Malu will be sentenced on June 19.

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