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Whanganui River becomes a ‘person’

Whanganui River becomes a ‘person’

If there was ever a moment when you thought New Zealand had drifted into the twilight zone, that moment could be when a Minister of the Crown with a straight face said that the Whanganui River had become a person.

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson said, when the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill passed its third reading on Wednesday, that the bill “responds to the view of the iwi of the Whanganui River which has long recognised Te Awa Tupua through its traditions, customs and practise." See http://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/90488008/whanganui-river-gets-the-rights-of-a-legal-person

The “personalising” of the river overshadowed a hefty transfer of wealth from taxpayers comprising $80-million to settle river claims by some tribes associated with the river plus a further $30-million fund for these tribes to apply for grants out of.

The law has created an office - Te Pou Tupua - to act as "the human face" of the river, comprising two nominees – one representing the Crown and the other representing the tribes.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said the move followed the example used in the Tuhoe Settlement Bill which saw Te Urewera National Park become a legal entity in 2014.

It is interesting to note that the Tuhoe co-governance set-up soon moved to a Tuhoe take-over.

Initially an eight-member board was set up with four representing the Crown and five for the tribe including the Tuhoe chair.

But after three years Tuhoe would have six representatives. See http://breakingviewsnz.blogspot.co.nz/2016/09/mike-butler-tuhoe-co-governance_11.html

Watch this space for the Whanganui River representation.


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