James Takamore was 55 when he died suddenly from an aneurism in 2007. He lived with his partner Denise Clarke and their two children . Mr Takamore was originally from Taneatua in Bay of Plenty but had moved to Christchurch with Denise 20 years before his death. Since moving to Christchurch James had only been back to Taneatua twice in 20 years.
In his will, Mr Takamore had stated that he wanted to be buried but he hadn’t said where.
His whānau, in accordance with Tuhoe custom felt that he should be buried in his ancestral home on the family marae however Ms Clarke had wanted him buried in Christchurch where they had made a home.
Back in 2007 when Denise Clarke was preparing to bury her partner in a Christchurch cemetery his whanau took his body from a Christchurch funeral home and drove it nearly a thousand kilometres north to bury it at the Kutarere marae.
In 2009 the High Court ruled that the Takamore family had taken the body unlawfully and that Miss Clarke was entitled to make the final decision on where he should be buried.
A four-year battle ensued following Mr Takamore’s death and he still may not have found his final resting place. Josephine Takamore, Mr Takamore’s sister went to the Court of Appeal arguing that the burial of a Māori was governed by tikanga (customary practices), and that taking Mr Takamore’s body was in accordance with Tuhoe burial custom. The Court of Appeal last November released its decision, siding with Miss Clarke and ordering the matter back to the high court “to deal with the question of remedy”.
Miss Clarke said at the time she was relieved it was “all over” and she would pursue the matter through the high court to bring Mr Takamore’s body back to Christchurch to be buried.
However his sister appealed the Appeal Court decision to the Supreme Court, which today granted her leave to hear it.
“The approved grounds are whether the Court of Appeal was correct to hold that New Zealand law entitled the executrix to determine disposal of the body of the deceased and whether it was correct to hold that the executrix is entitled to take possession of the body of the deceased not withstanding its burial.”
Ms Takamore told APNZ the family was very happy.
“We’re pleased that we’re going to get heard in the Supreme Court.”
She said she couldn’t comment on how Ms Clarke would feel about today’s decision but agreed that the Takamore family felt very strongly that the body of their whanau member should be at home with them.
Ms Clarke today told APNZ she did not want to comment on the latest decision.
No date has been set for a hearing.
Source: NZ Herald