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Even burial rights lead to squabbles

FUNERAL RITES: Cultural differences may lead to disputes over burial or cremation decisions.
FUNERAL RITES: Cultural differences may lead to disputes over burial or cremation decisions. Barry Leddicoat

PENNY and Charles are parents of David and separate shortly after his birth.

David spends most of his youth with the grandparents but is involved in an incident at the age of 17 and passes away.

A dispute arises between next-of-kin Penny and Charles regarding who is the appropriate person to make funeral arrangements.

Charles wishes to have the remains cremated and the ashes divided.

However, Penny wishes to have David's body buried with her family in New Zealand and says according to her beliefs as a Maori, the body must be kept intact and cremation is forbidden.

The Supreme Court of New South Wales conducts an urgent hearing.

In the time frame available expert evidence regarding Maori culture is not available.

The court does hear evidence from David's relatives stating although cremation is not the first preference it is not necessarily taboo.

The court considers the cost of transferring David's body back to New Zealand as also relevant.

A report by the New Zealand Commission is also considered, which states: "It is expected that the deceased will be buried in their ancestral lands (but) in contemporary times, many Maori live outside of their tribal territories and this can affect the...burial location and...whether burial or cremation is chosen.”

The court hears evidence from David's sister that he never expressed a view regarding his burial place or method of burial.

It then notes David's mother and father have equal ranking in relation to his funeral arrangements.

The judge states he found a decision most difficult but ultimately orders David's remains are to be cremated and the ashes divided equally between Penny and Charles.

If you would like Manny to address a particular legal issue, send your request to manny.wood@ticliblaxland.com.au or call him on (02) 6648 7487.

Break-out: "David's mother and father have equal ranking in relation to his funeral arrangements."

 

Topics:  funeral dispute hypothetical with manny wood maori funeral rites new zealand



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