July 07, 2022
Questions for ministry after Mahurangi body snatch
The whanau of a man whose body was taken from its grave is asking for answers about why the Health Ministry issued a licence – and where the body is now.
Spokesperson Tania Ratana says despite rules that whanau be consulted before an exhumation licence is issued, Matiu Sullivan’s mother was not informed the licence was being sought.
Mr Sullivan’s partner turned up with a digger at Pukapuka Cemetery near Mahurangi north of Auckland on the day before the date set on the licence and reburied the tupapaku somewhere near Rotorua, where she lives.
Ms Ratana says a neighbour got suspicious after seeing a truck at the urupa and returned to discover the mess left by the digger and the grave empty.
“He’d been in the earth three months so he had been returned to lay with our whanau for three months. He lay next to his favourite uncle and it was just messy. The ‘Rest in peace’ that was on top of his coffin was poked in the ground, almost as one last jab,” Ms Ratana says.
A Health Ministry spokesperson told Paakiwaha that every disinterment application is considered by appropriate experts across the ministry.