Two brothers on trial for murdering three-year-old Nia Glassie appeared to break down when their mother gave evidence at their trial on Thursday.

Michael and Wiremu Curtis both began wiping their eyes when after Tania Te Para-Heta entered the witness box in the High Court at Rotorua, the New Zealand Herald website reported.

Wiremu, 18, leaned back with his hands over his eyes and Michael, 21, kept his head on the desk in front of him, avoiding looking at his mother as she gave her evidence for the prosecution.

Te Para-Heta told how Wiremu turned up at her house in Auckland the day after Nia was admitted to Starship Hospital.

“He was drunk. He wasn’t making sense,” she said.

Wiremu had earlier called her saying he needed to come to Auckland because Nia was in Starship Hospital.

Te Para-Heta said Michael told her at Starship about what had happened to Nia.

“He said to me that it was an accident. That Wiremu had picked her up and she had fell off his shoulders.”

The brothers are charged with Nia’s murder, wilfully ill-treating and assaulting a child, and assault.

Nia’s cousin Michael Pearson, 19, is charged with manslaughter, wilfully ill-treating and assaulting a child, and Michael Curtis’ girlfriend Oriwa Kemp, 17, is charged with manslaughter, and assaulting a child.

Nia’s mother Lisa Kuka, 34, is charged with manslaughter by failing to provide medical treatment.

Nia died from massive bleeding between her skull and brain at Starship Hospital 12 days after being allegedly kicked in the head by the Curtis brothers on July 20 last year.