Tuhoe tikanga takes a judicial bruising

The Christchurch widow who has won a landmark case allowing her to bring the body of her husband back from a North Island marae – where his extended family took it for burial – has cause to be disappointed.

Trouble is, the High Court judgment has stopped short of ordering the disinterment of James Takamore.

It says his widow, Denise Clarke, and his Tuhoe relatives should try again to resolve the dispute.

On the strength of what has happened in the past – including the blatant snatching of the dead man’s body – this seems unlikely.

But if they can’t agree, according to Clark’s solicitor, there’s an opportunity to return to the judge for an order.

As Stuff reports the case –

Takamore died of an aneurism in August 2007, but before he could be buried in Christchurch his North Island relatives took his body away.

His burial at the Kutarere marae near Opotiki, in the Bay of Plenty, went ahead because police arrived too late to serve an injunction from Clarke.

Clarke then brought a civil action seeking orders for her husband to be reburied in Christchurch, in a case seen as constitutionally important as it wrestled with the boundaries of Maori custom and New Zealand law.

Justice Fogarty ruled that as executor of Takamore’s will, Clarke had the right to determine the disposal of his body.

The Takamore family had said Tuhoe tikanga took precedence over the law brought to New Zealand by the British.

It seems not.

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