19 Dec 2012

Body-shifting case 'not over yet'

11:32 am on 19 December 2012

Tuhoe chief negotiator Tamati Kruger says the dispute over the burial place of James Takamore is not over yet.

Mr Takamore lived in Christchurch with his wife and two children but after his death in 2007 other relatives took his body back to Bay of Plenty and buried it in a Tuhoe whanau cemetery.

After a five-year legal battle the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Mr Takamore's widow Denise Clarke can bury him where she chooses.

However Mr Kruger says Mr Takamore's extended family will be unhelpful about returning the body to Christchurch and Ms Clarke will have to rely on police and the courts.

The Supreme Court said outstanding issues should be taken back to the High Court for resolution before Ms Clarke can made a final decision.

The lawyer for Ms Clark, Gary Knight, said the next step is to decide the practicalities of exhuming the body and returning it to Christchurch.

Mr Knight said his legal team hopes to speak with the Takamore family's legal representatives and have a decision by the New Year.

He said while the main protaganists in the case communicate only through lawyers, other members of the wider family still have direct contact with Mr Takamore's children.

An Auckland University professor of indigenous studies said there will be major concerns among Maori about the Supreme Court ruling.

Rawiri Taonui said he agrees with the decision in this specific case but it's an unfortunate ruling and some Maori will be worried that Pakeha whanau will use it against them.

Dr Tainui said cultural beliefs must remain important despite the Supreme Court's decision.