James Takamore was buried in the Bay of Plenty yesterday without his partner of 20 years and his children present.
Police failed to execute a court order stopping the burial because they lacked the numbers to tackle the emotionally charged situation.
Mr Takamore died from an aneurysm on Friday. His body was bundled into a hired van and driven from Christchurch to his home marae near Opotiki at the weekend against the wishes of his partner, Denise Clarke, and their two children, who wanted him buried in Christchurch.
Mr Takamore's sister Tania McCormack told TV3's Campbell Live he had to be brought to his marae because "his [umbilical] cord is here, we can't stretch it to the South Island".
Ms Clarke said she was devastated. "He told me he wanted to be buried here ... We are his family more than they are, I would say."
She said she had been told that as executor of his will she had legal custody of his body, and vowed to continue the fight in the courts.