The family of James Takamore are vowing to remain vigilant after an unsuccessful attempt by authorities to remove his body in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
Up to 30 police officers were reported seen on the road near Kutarere Marae about 5am today for the planned disinterment of Mr Takamore.
His sister Josie Takamore said police arrived at the Kutarere urupa (cemetery) and spoke to a kaumatua, who refused to move.
"He was saying, 'No, absolutely no way you're moving my moko'," Ms Takamore said.
"We had blocked the road down the bottom to the urupa just so the digger and excavator couldn't get through."
Ms Takamore said police left soon after speaking with kaumatua.
Up to 60 whanau members were at the marae last night and early this morning.
Most have now gone home to rest but the whanau plan to take turns sitting by the gravesite of Mr Takamore.
"We're tired but we're still on edge and still have our guard up in case they come back. One whiff of them here and all it will take is one phone call and we'll all be up there again.
"This has opened new wounds but there's a positive feeling among us, this whanau feeling that we all believe absolutely that he needs to stay here," Ms Takamore said.
Eastern Bay of Plenty area commander Inspector Kevin Taylor, said police made the decision to abandon this morning's planned disinterment for safety reasons.
"The role of police from the outset has been to keep the peace, and we have been liaising closely with the court, the Marae Committee and all the parties involved to try to achieve a peaceful outcome.
"Our aim was for the disinterment to be carried out in a dignified and non-confrontational way. Safety was a priority and when it became clear that tensions were escalating, and there was a risk that the safety of the contractors might be in jeopardy, a decision was made to withdraw from the site."