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Carmen's niece still wants grave altered

Tue 17 Jun 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News

Carmen's niece Anne Paterson speaks at the unveiling A beneficiary of Carmen Rupe’s will maintains her aunt has not been given the headstone she deserves, and wants the estate to be placed in her hands so she can add some colour to it. In comments which Chanette Hemopo asked GayNZ.com Daily News to hold until after the headstone’s unveiling just over a week ago, she claims the executors of Rupe’s will have “stolen my inheritance”. Hemopo is adamant she was named as the sole executor and sole beneficiary in a will that Carmen had pinned to a black gown in her bedroom. That document went missing, and in the subsequent will document Hemopo is one of the beneficiaries, along with Carmen's friend Robin Waerea. Waerea is granted a cloak and Carmen's career photos, prints, drawings and paintings, which she asked him to give to Te Papa, which has been done. Personal effects, including photos, are given to Chanette Hemopo, along with what else was remaining from Carmen's estate - which it's understood is not much. Hemopo was also named a co-executor in the will, along with Waerea, who along with his partner Jurgen Hoffman supported Carmen in her final years in Sydney, particularly in her final months. Celebrant Liz Taylor and Robin Waerea at the unveiled headstone GayNZ.com understands the will, which is said to have been signed by Carmen in the presence of Carmen's sister Tessie Hemopo and her daughter Ann Paterson, included a clause making Hoffman sole executor should Waerea and Hemopo be ‘unwilling or unable’ to settle – a clause which was enacted when the situation became increasing bitter and fraught as allegations flew following Carmen’s death. Chanette Hemopo is one of those who has long questioned Waerea and Hoffman's motives and involvement in the preparation of the will and she now asks whether Hoffman should still be the executor, two and half years after her aunt’s death. “It’s unheard of,” Hemopo says. “The standard protocol would be to have it sorted in six months then hand it over to the beneficiary stated in the will. Why is Jurgen holding onto the Estate?” Waerea and Hoffman have repeatedly and strenuously denied all allegations of impropriety. Other members of Carmen’s family have also recently backed Waerea and Hoffman, including Chanette’s mother – Carmen’s sister Tessie Hemopo. She joined her sibling Frances Rupe and another of her daughters Ann Paterson signing a letter saying they are "utterly dismayed at attempts … to use social and other media to discredit both Robin Waerea and Jurgen Hoffman." The trio state they "denounce all accusations... of wrongdoings" made against the gay couple. They say they believe the pair "continue to hold her best interests at heart and we fully support their past and future actions." This has clearly angered Hemopo who says “it’s not ok that they have ignored me, gone totally over my head on issues I needed to be a part of and chose to work with any other family members excluding me. “Are they trying to legitimize the multi-layered web of wrongs [Hoffman] and Waerea have created in an attempt to keep firm control of Carmen’s Estate? If so, they would definitely need my family on their side and those preferably with the current surname Rupe - it appears. “As former co-executor and still the current beneficiary of aunt’s Estate I have been treated appallingly which is not okay. How can all of this be respecting aunt’s wishes?” Hemopo wants Carmen’s grave to be signed over, and has made fresh allegations of financial impropriety by Hoffman in his purchase of the headstone, claiming enough money was used from the estate for something she believes would be more fitting. GayNZ.com understands that Carmen's brother and sister and niece Anne Paterson were amongst those who signed off on the headstone. Hoffman says Chanette Hemopo was consulted and initially agreed with the headstone but then delayed signing off and the project had to go ahead without her formal ok. Hemopo believes the headstone should have a colourful glass overlay, and glamour pictures of Carmen from through the years, saying a run of the mill headstone is not for Rupe, something she says she will do “perhaps a few years up the line,” if the grave is signed over to her. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Rookwood Cemetery, where Carmen is interred, says a headstone "may be removed and / or replaced by the registered grave owner. No other party or individual is able to action the removal / replacement of said headstone." A "glass overlay" can be added in the Maori section of Rookwood Cemetery, "as it is a traditional Maori practice," according to the spokesperson. However, this too can only be commissioned and executed by the grave owner. Although the controversial Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust, set up by one of Carmen's neighbours, has been vocal in support of altering the headstone, Rookwood Cemetery says it has had no contact with the Trust.    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 17th June 2014 - 12:09pm

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