Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Hearing on debate over dead partner's remains

The family of the man are arguing his body is "very tapu" and has laid in rest for over four years. Photo / iStock
The family of the man are arguing his body is "very tapu" and has laid in rest for over four years. Photo / iStock

A whanau fighting a Christchurch woman's legal bid to have her dead partner exhumed and cremated are "incredibly frustrated" at delays over expert witnesses ahead of a trial later this year.

Cheyenne Rana Biddle has launched court action to exhume the body of her partner Jamie Robert Pooley, who died on May 14, 2011 and was buried in a family plot at Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch.

Ms Biddle claims the 27-year-old father-of-three always wanted to be cremated.

Mr Pooley's whanau deny the claims and do not want him disturbed.

Neither party is willing to back down. The dispute is heading for a three-day hearing before a judge at the High Court in Christchurch, likely to begin on October 31 this year, the Herald has learned.

The Pooley whanau's main argument against exhumation - which has legal precedent in New Zealand - is that Mr Pooley's "very tapu" body has laid in rest for more than four years.

Mr Pooley's eldest son Tuhaka Pooley, 13, wants his father - a former under-18 New Zealand rugby league player and Aranui High School student - left alone.

"I feel like Dad is in the right place because he is Maori and he is in a Maori cemetery and it is peaceful there. I can't imagine him being anywhere else," he says.

The case has been struck by delays over securing expert witnesses to give evidence at the hearing.

Tuhaka's mother, and Mr Pooley's ex-partner, Charmaine Shaw says the delays are "incredibly frustrating" for her and the Pooley whanau.

"We just want it to be all over and done with," the 33-year-old said yesterday (Thursday).
"A three-day trial is a big trial and it is so far away. We know there is a process but it still does not help the stress of it all."

Ms Shaw said the Pooley whanau is "feeling extremely distressed" over a possible exhumation without their blessing.

They will oppose the move as much as they can, Ms Shaw said, despite the financial burden which comes with defending their stance.

"We have two options: walk away and let the plaintiff win based on financial reasons, which is like giving in without a fight, or pay the money to fight for justice and what is right," said Ms Shaw.

"We will somehow pay the money to fight to keep Jamie where he should be."

- NZ Herald

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