Sib­lings split on re­mains

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - KAY DIBBEN

A BROTHER and sis­ter have taken a dis­pute over where their Tor­res Strait Is­land-born mother should be buried, to the Supreme Court.

Mother-of-six Daisy Ann Martin’s body has been held at a Bris­bane fu­neral home for five months await­ing a court de­ci­sion to de­ter­mine her place of burial. She died on April 9.

Mrs Martin’s el­dest son Charles Martin, the ex­ecu­tor of her fi­nal will, wanted his mother buried at Mount Gra­vatt Ceme­tery next to his fa­ther, her ex­hus­band, as he said she wished.

But Mrs Martin’s el­dest sur­viv­ing daugh­ter Su­san Hamil­ton said she needed to take her mother’s em­balmed body back to Saibai Is­land. Ms Hamil­ton said that her Tor­res Strait fam­ily’s Umemere clan was of royal de­scent and her mother, who was born on Boigu Is­land, had been ma­tri­arch of the clan.

She told the court that as el­dest daugh­ter she was in line to be­come ma­tri­arch once her mother was buried on her home land. She said only her mother’s sib­lings had the right to say where she should be buried.

While Ms Hamil­ton’s burial tra­di­tion claims were sup­ported by another brother, Peter Martin, and her mother’s sis­ter, her brothers Charles and Don­ald Martin dis­puted them.

Charles Martin told the court his mother was a com­mit­ted Chris­tian who had lived for al­most 40 years in Bris­bane, and had no de­sire to be buried in the Tor­res Strait. Don­ald Martin said his mother was a mod­ern woman not con­fined by out­dated tribal tra­di­tions.

Charles’s daugh­ter, his mother’s pri­mary carer for years, said her grand­mother had told her she wanted to be buried next to her ex-hus­band.

Ms Hamil­ton claimed un­der the Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der Cul­tural Her­itage Act, the own­er­ship of her mother’s re­mains were pro­tected and vested in the de­ceased’s sib­lings.

But af­ter con­sid­er­ing the Act, Jus­tice Martin Burns dis­agreed. He dis­missed Ms Hamil­ton’s ap­pli­ca­tion for an in­junc­tion re­strain­ing Mr Martin from dis­pos­ing of their mother’s body. The judge said un­der com­mon law, Charles, as ex­ecu­tor, had a duty to dis­pose of the body and held right of pos­ses­sion of it.

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