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A world's first - New Zealand's Whanganui River recognised as `legal person`

Under legislation passed on Wednesday that combines Western legal precedent with Maori mysticism, the Whanganui River was formally declared a living entity.


A world's first - New Zealand's Whanganui River recognised as `legal person`
Image credit: Wikipedia

New Delhi: A New Zealand river revered by Maori has been granted the same legal rights as a person by the country's Parliemant - in a move believed to be a world's first.

Under legislation passed on Wednesday that combines Western legal precedent with Maori mysticism, the Whanganui River was formally declared a living entity.

The move was a significant triumph for the Maori iwi, or tribe, who had been fighting to assert their rights over the river since the 1870s, in New Zealand`s longest-running legal dispute.

 

"(It) will have its own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person," Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said.

"The approach of granting legal personality to a river is unique."

"This legislation recognises the deep spiritual connection between the Whanganui iwi and its ancestral river," he said.

It deems the river a single living being "from the mountains to the sea, incorporating its tributaries and all its physical and metaphysical elements".

In practical terms, it means the river can be represented at legal proceedings with two lawyers protecting its interests, one from the iwi the other from the government.

The iwi also received an NZ$80 million ($56 million) settlement from the government after their marathon legal battle, as well as $30 million to improve the river`s health.

The river - known by Maori as Te Awa Tupua - with a length of 290 kilometres, is the third longest in New Zealand.

(With AFP inputs)

From Zee News

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