Authorities will exhume the body of an Aboriginal teenager who died in 1983 as part of an ongoing search for answers into his death.

The body of 16-year-old Lewis “Buddy” Kelly was found on railway tracks outside the NSW town of Kempsey in 1983 and while an initial inquest found he drunkenly wandered on to the tracks and was killed by a train, his family say they have always believed otherwise.

News of the exhumation, which was ordered by a coroner, has come as a relief to the family, who said they have “never given up hope” of finding out what really happened.

Lewis’ younger sister, Monica Kelly, says they hope the latest development will reveal answers missed by the initial investigation.

“It’s a massive step for us,” said Ms Kelly.

“In 1983, from the first investigation there was no correct examination in regards to autopsy, or blood alcohol readings or urine samples….we as a family felt that investigation failed back then because of those reasons.”

Ms Kelly, who was nine years old at the time of Lewis’s death, says the incident has “never left her.”

“I remember it like it was yesterday, when my Dad got the news.”

A smoking ceremony will be performed at the gravesite in Armidale on Sunday November 22 prior to the exhumation next week.