Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Son of Jamie Pooley asks judge in exhumation row: 'Please leave my Dad in the ground'

A battle over whether to exhume the body of young Christchurch father Jamie Pooley has reached the High Court. Photo / Supplied.
A battle over whether to exhume the body of young Christchurch father Jamie Pooley has reached the High Court. Photo / Supplied.

The teenage son of a Christchurch man at the centre of a five-year exhumation row today made an emotional plea in court to say, 'Please leave my Dad in the ground'.

Cheyenne Rana Biddle wants to exhume the body of her long-term partner, Jamie Robert Pooley, who died on May 14, 2011, so that he could be cremated and returned to his ancestral homeland.

Biddle claims the 27-year-old father-of-three, who was buried in a family plot at Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch, always wanted to be cremated.

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

Biddle took legal action to pursue the move, which has parallels with the James Takamore case.

On the second day of a High Court hearing in Christchurch, Pooley's eldest son Tuhaka Pooley, 14, had a statement outlining his feelings read to the court.

He spoke of being at Memorial Park Cemetery in the Christchurch suburb of Bromley when his father was buried more than five years ago and dirt was sprinkled over the coffin.

Tuhaka says he doesn't remember hearing any objections from Biddle over the funeral arrangements.

Now, he wants his father to be left alone to "rest in peace" in a place where he can visit.

"If my Dad gets dug up, what good would that do?" Tuhaka asked.

He said disinterring the body would not bring him back alive.

"It wouldn't be good for me if a judge says he has to be dug up and cremated," he said.

"Please leave my dad in the ground."

Biddle, as administrator of the estate of Pooley, who did not have a will, has the legal right to disinter his body, cremate him, and have his ashes returned to his Ngati Porou ancestral home in the North Island, her lawyer Phillip Allan has told the court.

Biddle had been in a de facto relationship with Pooley for nearly six years and had two children with him.

Yesterday said she was "sidelined" by the Pooley family after his death as they "took full control" of the funeral arrangements.

Pooley's mother Charlotte Pooley today told the court that Biddle gave no input during funeral discussions.

She said Biddle had stayed silent throughout and raised no objections.

Charlotte Pooley said it would be tapu for her son to now be exhumed.

"It's a big no no in Maori culture," she said.

Cheyenne's mother Gillian Frances Biddle this morning spoke of her "surprise" that her daughter was allegedly not involved in the decision-making of the funeral arrangements.

Pooley loved Biddle and his children "intensely", she said.

After his sudden death, the tangi was "very emotional, full of tension".

She was "surprised that Chey and our family were not involved at all" in the decision-making, as she felt it was a time to join together as a larger family.

"[The Pooleys] were not the only ones grieving," Gillian Biddle said.

The hearing, before Justice Gerald Nation, continues.

- NZ Herald

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