The planned removal of a Christchurch man's body from a Bay of Plenty cemetery has been prevented due to a tense standoff with whanau.
James Takamore died in 2007 and was due to be buried in Christchurch, but his whanau took his body to a family cemetery in the Bay of Plenty, against his partner's wishes.
After a seven year legal battle, the Supreme Court in 2012 ruled that Mr Takamore's partner Denise Clarke could decide where he should be buried.
Lawyer Gary Knight said he and Ms Clarke had gone to the cemetery on Thursday night.
"There was a testy standoff between police and undertakers on the one hand and people at the urupa on the other."
Mr Knight said when police arrived at the cemetery at 5am on Friday they thought it was too risky to carry out the disinterment.
"The police didn't have authority to carry out a compulsory disinterment - they only had authority to maintain law and order.
"It wasn't going to be possible to carry out the disinterment without some kind of physical confrontation with the people at the urupa and nobody was prepared to take the risk of doing that."
He said they would not stop until they bring James Takamore's body to Christchurch.
Eastern Bay of Plenty area commander Inspector Kevin Taylor said the decision was made to withdraw because of concerns for the safety of contractors.
Mr Knight said Ms Clarke was not certain of the next step, but he would talk to the police next week.
He told Checkpoint Ms Clarke was pretty sad.