New Zealand’s Whanganui River Has Been Granted the Same Legal Rights as a Person

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In what’s believed to be a world first, New Zealand’s government has granted a river the same rights as a living person. The Whanganui River, considered part of the living landscape by the indigenous Whanganui Iwi people associated with it, has been granted legal personhood under a parliamentary bill, reports local news service Newshub. Two representatives from the local indigenous community — one appointed by the government, another elected by the community — will be entrusted with acting in the river’s interests. The Whanganui Iwi have fought for this day for over 160 years, an indigenous MP told Radio New Zealand. “From a Whanganui viewpoint the wellbeing of the river is directly linked to the well-being of the people,” said Adtian Rurawhe, “and so it is really important that’s recognized as its own identity”

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