The Supreme Court this week released its decision in Takamore v Clarke. The case related to the burial of James Takamore, who died in 2007 and whose body was subsequently by members of his whanau to be buried at Opotiki, against the wishes of his wife, who was the executor of his will.
The Supreme Court case was an appeal from the Court of Appeal where Mr Takamore‘s sister, Ms Josephine Takamore, had argued that the burial of a Māori deceased is governed by Māori tikanga (the customary practices of the Māori people) because Māori custom is a part of the common law of New Zealand. She argued that the taking of Mr Takamore‘s body was in accordance with Tūhoe burial custom. The Court of Appeal confirmed that the executor of a will is entitled to make the final decision about where the testator is to be buried. Josephine Takamore appealed that decision but the Supreme Court has now dismissed her appeal.
Natalie Coates, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Auckland, has prepared a very useful summary of the Supreme Court decision for the Māori Law Review.
The full judgment is available at the Courts of New Zealand website.