Case to set Maori burial precedent
Tue, 17 Jul 2012 6:10p.m.
By Dan Parker
The Maori family at the centre of a body-snatching case say even if the Supreme Court rules against them, returning the remains of James Takamore may not be possible.
Mr Takamore's body, snatched from his Pakeha widow before it could be buried in Christchurch, is now in a North Island Maori cemetery, in Kutarere near Whakatane.
But whether it will be allowed to stay there is now a decision for the Supreme Court. It's a case which could set a precedent that Maori protocol around burial, or tikanga, can trump common law.
“The approach we are being asked to adopt here has huge ramifications for everyone,” says Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias.
James Takamore's body was taken from Christchurch in 2007 against the will of his of partner of 20 years, Denise Clarke, and their children.
Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have ruled in favour of Ms Clarke to have the body returned.
But the whanau refuse to accept the decision and brother in-law Henare Heremaia says attempts to exhume the body will be blocked.
“Just getting that permission to go on the land would be problematic wouldn't it?” he asks. “Just to get on to the land.”
Despite initiating the action, Josephine Takamore hopes the hearings will clear up the authority iwi have over a body, so the issue, like the body, can be laid to rest once and for all.
“Hopefully together, Denise and the children and us, will come together one day and just be family – leave it all behind, leave what's happening between the two families and just become one,” says Josephine Takamore.
The case is believed to be the first of its kind and will be heard over two days.
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21/11/2012 6:23:05 p.m.
I have an aunty who is buried in the same urupa as James Takamore (who is buried next to his dad). My Aunty as well as myself do not whakapapa (come from) the Kutarere area. But, Aunty is buried next to my Uncle who does. This is the place where Aunty wanted to be buried, this was her wish and my Whanau made it so. Here is my point, what if the Whanau from where we come from showed up at the tangi and said no, she will be buried back home. Who would have the right then?. It didn't happen of course, probably because there would have been a hell of a fight. But, what if?. My Aunty is buried next to my Uncle because that is where she wanted to be buried. Where did James Takamore want to be buried?, and is it too late to move him now?.
18/07/2012 1:42:54 p.m.
people arnt leaving the country because maori are expressing some of there more controversial customs kevin. I agree with the courts decision that the body should be returned, but it is also worth aknoledging that maori customary law and tradition almost always lose out to common/statutory law whos legitimacy is questionable. as for making you angry as a "New Zealander" maybe you need to re-evaluate who were the first to live in NZ were, understand there customs and cultures and then think about your circumstances and you and your families relationship with Aotearoa.
17/07/2012 9:50:13 p.m.
At the moment there are two laws. One for Maori and one for the rest of the population.
17/07/2012 7:38:25 p.m.
Awesome.... So now some, not all Maori, don't think me racist here, are thinking they are above the law now. This country is getting pathetic. No wonder everyone, even Maori themselves are leaving this country. It over the top now. The police, the courts and the government need to grow some balls and put a stop to this. Arrrrhhh it makes me so mad as a New Zealander.
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