The legal personhood of rivers: Environmental justice meets indigenous worldviews

The talk is online and will be screened in the Faculty of Law. In order to participate via zoom, prior booking via Eventbrite is necessary.

“For 180 years our people fought to have their relationship with our River recognised and respected.

Petitions to the Crown, and hearings before the Courts and planning commissions of New Zealand were regular features of our fight. Preserving and protecting the health and well-being of our river and the relationship our people have with our river holding primacy.

The achievement Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act in 2017 restored the right of the Awa to be treated in its own right, to have legal personhood. That no one owned it, it is a living indivisible whole from the mountains to the sea.

While legal personhood is a key feature of what we achieved having Tupua te Kawa enforced in law is just as significant. Tupua te Kawa a set of indigenous values that requires decision makers governing twenty-five acts to recognise and provide for them.

I will discuss how collectively the status of Te Awa Tupua and Tupua te Kawa have changed the way people interact with our Awa and its people.”
— Nancy Tuaine —