Sep 23, 2017 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

New Zealand Granted Whanganui River Human Rights And Legal Status, World's First

Mar 17, 2017 02:11 AM EDT

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New Zealand grants Whanganui River a legal identity
(Photo : Mark Mitchell/Getty Images)

The Whanganui River in New Zealand has become the first river in the world to be given the same legal rights that are enjoyed by a human. The river is long held in great respect by the native Maori people, who have been fighting for this right to given to the river for more than a century.

According to BBC, the Maori have been fighting for the river's recognition for over a period of 160 years. The Whanganui River in North Island has been given the right by the New Zealand Parliament as they passed a bill recognizing it as a human on Wednesday. Now the river will be represented by two people in future court proceedings, one from the Maori tribe and another from the native Crown tribe.

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The Whanganui is the third longest river in New Zealand and is revered by the native tribal people. Emotions flew free among the Maori members of the New Zealand Parliament as they welcomed the news with tears and music. The New Zealand Parliament also said that the well-being of the river is their responsibility, as it is linked to the well-being of the tribal people directly.

According to The Guardian, this new status of the Whanganui River imposes the law that any kind of harm done to the river will be regarded as an attempt to harm the members of the tribe, as they are now one and the same. This also bears a message to be given to the world that human beings are not the masters of the universe; rather they are just a part of it, as much as the rivers and mountains are.

The new law also honors the point of view of the tribal people of New Zealand who regard the Whanganui River as a part of their community. The New Zealand Parliament passes it with a view to the development of the river and the restriction of any kind of anti-economic usage of the river in the future.

The new amendment includes a budget of $80 million for the financial redress of the Whanganui River. An additional amount of $30 million will be used to improve the river's health.


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