3 Oct 2008

Extension of police powers being considered

10:05 pm on 3 October 2008

The Government is investigating giving police the power to seize bodies with or without a warrant, to prevent cases of body snatching.

Information obtained by Radio New Zealand shows advice to the Minister of Justice in March this year, recommends a law change.

It follows a number of cases of bodies being snatched: including that of Ivy May Ngahooro, 76, who was taken by her estranged daughter to a marae near Taumarunui earlier this year; and James Takamore who was taken to the Bay of Plenty in August last year.

The briefing paper says there would be more time for issues to be resolved if the police are given the power to seize a body under dispute.

The ministry says it is still working on investigating the implications of giving the police extra powers.

No consultation

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is condemning a lack of consultation with Maori.

He told Morning Report there are many issues around Maori death and mourning ceremonies, and he was disappointed they've not been consulted.

Dr Sharples said there are negative barriers between police and Maori in some areas, so a different agency could be involved.