A fundraising drive has been launched to help a Christchurch family fight a legal move to have their dead son exhumed.

Cheyenne Rana Biddle wants 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.

Biddle claims the 27-year-old father-of-three former New Zealand Under-18 rugby league player always wanted to be cremated.

Pooley's whanau - parents Charlotte and Bruce Pooley and Jamie's siblings Frances and Daniel Pooley - deny the claims and do not want him disturbed.

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It's heading for a High Court hearing later this year.

Now, Jamie Pooley's ex-partner, and mother of his eldest son Tuhaka, has set up a Givealittle page to help cover the Pooley family's court costs.

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

And lawyer fees in defending the High Court action are mounting up and could exceed $30,000, she says.

"Is it not enough that this family have tragically and suddenly lost a son/brother/father to suicide? But now are faced with the added stress of a court case and huge financial burden on top of what is already a highly traumatic situation - it's just not fair," Shaw writes on the Givealittle page, which has already raised $3600 from nearly 50 donors.

She says Jamie's mother, Charlotte has just received devastating news that she has just 4 - 12 months to live after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

"The stress of losing Jamie and responding in defence to all the court submissions has taken a huge toll on Charlotte's rapidly deteriorating health," Shaw says.

Biddle's statement of claim seeks an order restraining Pooley's family from blocking the disinterment.

The parties are also battling over Maori weapons belonging Mr Pooley - two taiaha (closed-quarters staffs) and one tewhatewha (long-handled club) - taonga which Biddle wants made available "for his sons to earn".

Biddle further claims that Maori tikanga, or custom, was not followed properly after Pooley's death and koha (ceremonial gifts of money) have not been properly accounted for.

However, 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.

A three-day hearing before Associate Judge John Matthews is due to begin on October 31.

The case has parallels with the eight-year legal battle over the body of James Takamore, which was finally resolved earlier this year through behind-closed-doors mediation.