Millions of people around the world are still lacking human rights, but a river in New Zealand isn’t.
A recent parliamentary vote grants the Whanganui River the same legal standing as a human being, ensuring it will be represented by two guardians in any legal matters over the water way.
The Maori people consider this a monumental victory, having fought for it for 140 years. One representative will come from the tribe and one from the government in court proceedings.
The settlement also includes $80 million in financial redress and $30 million to improve the river’s health.
“This legislation recognizes the deep spiritual connection between the Whanganui Iwi [tribe] and its ancestral river, and creates a strong platform for the future of Whanganui River,” says Chris Finlayson, New Zealand Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.
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