Digging up a young Christchurch father five years after he died would be "really unpleasant" and "devastating" for his whanau, a court heard yesterday.

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.

A final offer by Justice Gerald Nation of mediation was not accepted ahead of a three-day hearing at the High Court in Christchurch yesterday.

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 at the North Island's east coast, her lawyer Phillip Allan said.

Biddle told the court that she'd been in a de facto relationship with Pooley for nearly six years. They had two children together.

In private, they had discussed their funeral wishes if either of them died.

They decided to be cremated, she said, and that the children could decide where the ashes would be scattered.

She was unaware of him sharing his burial wishes with anyone else.

After his sudden death, Biddle felt "helpless . . . in total shock" as the Pooley family "took full control" of the funeral arrangements.

She says she raised Pooley's wishes to be cremated and returned to his ancestral home but felt "sidelined" by his family.

Under cross-examination by Grant Tyrrell, lawyer acting for the Pooley family, Biddle accepted that an exhumation more than five years on would be "really unpleasant".

"He's in the wrong place . . . going home was important to him."

Tyrrell said the impact on Pooley's whanau would be "devastating".

Asked by Allan why, after five years, she still wants him cremated, Biddle replied that it was "what's right for him".

She would also find it traumatic, but added: "I have to do this".

A statement by Pooley's eldest son Tuhaka Pooley, 14, which was read to the court said exhumation would feel worse than his father passing away.

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

The hearing continues today.