Battle over snatched body may be resolved

Last updated 07:37 23/01/2013
JAMES TAKAMORE: Died in 2007 in Christchurch, where he had lived with his wife Denise Clarke and their two children for 20 years.
JAMES TAKAMORE: Died in 2007 in Christchurch, where he had lived with his wife Denise Clarke and their two children for 20 years.
Denise Clarke
FAMILY: Denise Clarke in 2007 shortly after her partner, James Takamore died.

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The body of a man spirited away from Christchurch in 2007 may soon be exhumed from its Bay of Plenty grave.

A lawyer for the widow of James Takamore said yesterday early negotiations were under way that could see the body exhumed "by mutual consent".

"All I am able to say is that initial contact has been made," Gary Knight, lawyer for Denise Clarke, said.

Takamore died of an aneurism in 2007. He was to be buried in Christchurch, where he had lived with Clarke and their two children for nearly 20 years.

But his Tuhoe relatives took his body from the funeral parlour to his birthplace in the Bay of Plenty, and they buried him next to his father at Kutarere Marae, near Opotiki.

A bitter legal battle then ensued for five years.

Clarke, who is executor of Takamore's estate, obtained a High Court judgment confirming her right to decide his burial place and ordering an exhumation. The decision was upheld in the Court of Appeal.

However, Takamore's sister, Josephine Takamore, appealed to the Supreme Court against that decision on the grounds that Tuhoe tikanga, or customary protocol, should decide the location of burial.

The Supreme Court ruling, issued last month, said Takamore's appeal had been unanimously dismissed.

But it ruled that neither of the stances taken by the two parties was entirely correct.

Clarke did not have exclusive discretion as to where the body would be buried, but her views would be highly influential.

Takamore's whanau did not have an absolute right either, but their views would also be highly regarded, the court said.

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- The Press

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