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24 Jan 2018 8:58
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  •   Home > News > Maori

    Boy's cremation or burial dispute in court

    Maori culture has been cited in a NSW court dispute over whether teenager should be buried or cremated.

    Parents of a 17-year-old boy who died at an Australian swimming pool in October have each cited Maori culture in their court battle over whether he should be buried or cremated.

    In the NSW Supreme Court on Monday, lawyers for Te Rina Abraham and Steven Henry, who split up shortly after the birth of their son Pono, each argued for his body to be released to their client, not the other parent.

    "There is no perfect solution, there is no solution that will keep everyone happy," the father's barrister, Jane Needham SC, told Justice Stephen Rothman.

    Pono, who suffered brain damage in a road accident in 2013, died after an incident at the Lambton Pool in Newcastle on October 17.

    The teenager lived in Newcastle, while his mother now lives in New Zealand and his father is in Queensland.

    Ms Abraham's barrister, Patricia Lane, said the mother wants her son to have a Maori burial in New Zealand in accordance with cultural mores.

    She referred to evidence about the spirit of a dead person resting with their ancestors, which could include Pono's grandmother, who died in Australia and was returned to NZ.

    Ms Abraham did not want her son to be cremated but returned to the earth.

    Ms Needham said the father wanted his son to have a Maori funeral in Sydney before he was cremated, with half of his ashes going to his mother who could take them back to NZ.

    This proposal involved "the greatest good for the greatest number", she submitted.

    "(Pono) had a life in Australia and he did not necessarily want to go back to New Zealand."

    Ms Needham cited evidence from a Maori woman who said it was not taboo to have a person cremated and it was not unknown to happen in Maori culture.

    "She says it is almost unknown to have a (Maori) funeral where there is not a dispute about where people should be buried," she added.

    Justice Rothman is expected to hand down his decision within the next few days.


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