15 Jul 2009

Takamore case unique in legal history - defence

8:27 pm on 15 July 2009

The three-day civil hearing to decide where the body of a Christchurch man should be buried has come to an end in the High Court at Christchurch.

Tuhoe man James Takamore died in August 2007 and family members took his body back to his birthplace in Bay of Plenty for burial, against the wishes of his widow, Denise Clarke.

She wants his body brought home to Christchurch.

Lawyers from both sides gave their closing submissions to Justice Fogerty on Wednesday.

A defence lawyer representing some members of his family who took his body, Jamie Ferguson, said the issue was how New Zealand common law and traditional Maori custom or tikanga intersected.

Mr Ferguson highlighted the duty of the Crown to recognise tikanga, saying this decision would set a precedent for similar cases.

He said the case was unique in New Zealand's legal history.

He also said overriding traditional Maori customs would have negative effects on future cases.

Ms Clarke's lawyer Phillip Allen told the court that as the executor of Mr Takamore's estate, she should have had the final say on where he would be buried.

Justice Fogerty addressed the court briefly before retiring to consider his decision, saying it is a particularly difficult case.

His ruling is expected in two or three months.