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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
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Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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Is there any NZ Legislation corresponding to the UK

Customer Question

Is there any NZ Legislation corresponding to the UK Protection of Military Remains Act 1986? I am thinking of the legal status of HMS Puriri, sunk by a German mine off Whangarei Heads in 1941 with the loss of 5 of her crew. Their bodies were never recovered so presumably still lie in the wreck, which should be considere a War Grave.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: New Zealand Law
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

New Zealand is a party to the Geneva Convention which says-"

Article 17

Parties to the conflict shall ensure that burial or cremation of the dead, carried out individually as far as circumstances permit, is preceded by a careful examination and if possible by a medical examination, of the bodies, with a view to confirming death, establishing identity and enabling a report to be made. One half of the double identity disc, or the identity disc itself if it is a single disc, should remain on the body.

Bodies shall not be cremated except for imperative reasons of hygiene or for motives based on the religion of the deceased. In case of cremation the circumstances and reasons for cremation shall be stated in detail in the death certificate or on the authenticated list of the dead.

They shall further ensure that the dead are honourably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, that their graves are respected, grouped if possible according to the nationality of the deceased, properly maintained and marked so that they may always be found. For this purpose, they shall organise at the commencement of hostilities an Official GravesRegistration Service, to allow subsequent exhumations and to ensure the identification of bodies, whatever the site of the graves, and their possible transportation to the home country. These provisions shall likewise apply to the ashes, which shall be kept by the Graves Registration Service until proper disposal thereof in accordance with the wishes of the home country.

As soon as circumstances permit, and at latest at the end of hostilities, these Services shall exchange, through the Information Bureau mentioned in the second paragraph of Article 16, lists showing the exact location and markings of the graves, together with particulars of the dead interred therein."

This requires that all war graves are respected, and bodies in a ship would be protected.

Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

If this site is listed as an historic site then it should be on this list and be protected

"5 New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero

  • (1)Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga must continue and maintain the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero, which is the same as the register established under section 22 of the Historic Places Act 1993."

Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

I cannot find a specific statute which would cover the same subject as the UK Act, but the two laws I cite above would give pretty much the same protection

Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

The Minstry Of Arts Culture and Heritage does have provision for maintaining war graves, so they may be able to assist in protection