National | Law

Takamore family willing to discuss possible exhumation

Seven years after the body of James Takamore was taken, he is now set to return home.

An agreement has been reached and the family will allow the marae committee to carry out the disinterment.

After a long, controversial battle between James Takamore’s partner Denise Clarke and family members in Kutarere, a High Court judgment confirmed her right to decide his burial place and ordered an exhumation.

The decision was upheld in the Court of Appeal, however, Takamore's sister, Josephine Takamore, lodged an appeal in the Supreme Court on the grounds that Tūhoe tikanga should take precedence and decide the location of the burial.

When James Junior Takamore died suddenly in Christchurch in 2007, his family in Kutarere wanted to have him buried in their family cemetery in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Despite James Takamore’s partner, Denise Clarke and their son’s resistance to the idea, James’ body was taken and buried in Kutarere.

The Supreme Court threw out the Takamore family’s appeal and ruled in favour of Denise Clarke who sought to have James Takamore’s body disinterred from their family cemetery in Kutarere.

His whānau of Tūhoe and Te Whakatōhea descent, however, took his body away to his birthplace, where they buried him next to his father at Kutarere Marae.

The Law Commission has been reviewing New Zealands current burial and cremation laws for the first time in 50 years.

This comes after the cultural clashes that arose over this particular case and discussed whether the final resting place of James Takamore should have been decided by his iwi in Tūhoe or by his partner who lived in Christchurch with him for 20 years.

This prompted the Law Commission to look at resolutions for disputes like this.

It's the biggest overhaul of NZ's burial laws in 50 years, and could see cemeteries popping up on private land all over the country.