Whanganui River given legal status of a person

New Zealand Herald
Wednesday March 15, 2017
By: Isaac Davison

Whanganui River now has the legal status of a person under a unique Treaty settlement passed into law today.

The settlement means the river, the third-longest in the country, has all the rights, duties and liabilities that come with personhood.

Among other things, the river could now be represented in court proceedings, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said.

"I know the initial inclination of some people will say it's pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality.

"But it's no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies."

The river would be represented by two officials, one from the Whanganui iwi and the other from the Crown.

Labour's Te Tai Hauauru MP Adrian Rurawhe said that in Whanganui, the wellbeing of the river was directly linked to the wellbeing of the people.

Therefore, the concept of treating a river as a person was not unusual for Maori. It was captured in the well-known Maori saying, "I am the river and the river is me".

Read more at New Zealand Herald.