Agreement entitles Whanganui River to legal identity
By: Kate Shuttleworth
New Zealand Herald
The Whanganui River will become an legal entity and have a legal voice under a preliminary agreement signed between Whanganui River iwi and the Crown tonight.
This is the first time a river has been given a legal identity.
A spokesman for the Minister of Treaty Negotiations said Whanganui River will be recognised as a person when it comes to the law - "in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests".
The agreement was signed on behalf of Whanganui iwi by Brendan Puketapu of the Whanganui River Maori Trust, which represents a group of iwi along the river, and the Crown in Parliament this evening.
Under the agreement the river is given legal status under the name Te Awa Tupua - two guardians, one from the Crown and one from a Whanganui River iwi, will be given the role of protecting the river.
An agreement between the Crown and local iwi on what the values will be in protecting the river are yet to be decided.
A whole river strategy, in collaboration with iwi, local government and commercial and recreational users is still being decided.
An eventual settlement will also include monetary compensation for historical claims.
Minister for Treaty for Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson said the signing was an historic event.
"Whanganui River iwi have sought to protect the river and have their interests acknowledged by the Crown through the legal system since 1873. They pursued this objective in one of New Zealand's longest running court cases.
Published 8 months, 3 weeks ago under Law