New Zealand’s Whanganui River is Now Legally a —– Human Being ?????????
Following a more than 150 year legal battle,,, the local Maori have succeeded in winning personhood rights for the body of water.
New Zealand’s Whanganui River has long been sacred to the local Maori and now it has a new claim to fame. As of March 15th,,, it became the first and only river in the world to be granted the same legal rights as a human being. In the bill passes,, New Zealand’s Parliament voted to recognize the 180 mile long body of water, located on the country’s North Island, as ” an indivisible and living whole comprising the Whanganui River from the mountains to the sea “. The bill also included an apology from the government for failing to do more to protect the river from harmful practices like gravel extraction, which destroyed fish habitats, and for failing to formally recognize the group’s sacred relationship with it, for which they have been lobbying since the 1870’s.The people view the river as a living, breathing ancestor —- and now so does the government. The river will have it’s own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a legal person. In other words, : Do harm to the river, and you will be punished as though you have harmed a member of the tribe. The river will be represented by two guardians — one from the government of New Zealand ,,, and the other from the tribe called Maori who will basically act in the best interests of the river.
The NZ government will also pay up for its damages with a settlement that includes a grant of 56 million US dollars as restitution for past transgressions as well more money intended to help establish a legal framework for the now person. It will also kick in more money to kick start a fund for the well being of the river.
The next time that you are in New Zealand,,,, don’t bother chasing waterfalls. There is a river that is calling your name….