Fight over burial place settled after final appeal - NZ law takes precedence over customary practice, as it should do...
PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ
The father-of-two died of an aneurysm in 2007 and was to be buried in Christchurch, where he had lived with Denise Clarke for nearly 20 years.
But his Tuhoe relatives had other plans and spirited his body to the Bay of Plenty where they buried him next to his father at Kutarere Marae, near Opotiki.
Clarke, who is executor of Takamore's estate, obtained a High Court judgement confirming her right to decide his burial place and ordering her partner's body be exhumed.
The decision was upheld in the Court of Appeal but Takamore's sister, Josephine Takamore, appealed against that decision on the grounds that Tuhoe tikanga, or customary protocol, should decide the location of burial.
In July a two-day Supreme Court hearing was held, with a decision being released this afternoon.
In the decision, Chief Justice Sian Elias said Josephine Takamore's appeal had been unanimously dismissed.
There was a common law rule under which the executor had both the right and duty to dispose of the body of a deceased person.
The rule became operative where there was no agreement among the family on what was to be done, where arrangements had broken down, or where nothing was happening.
Justice Elias said there were valid arguments for both sides, but Takamore's own life choices should also be taken into account.
"...weighing up the different and valid claims of the parties as best I can, I have concluded that Ms Clarke and her children should in the circumstances of the case be left to decide where Mr Takamore is to be buried."
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