Health Care

New Zealand parliament votes to give river same legal rights as person

New Zealand parliament votes to give river same legal rights as person

As of Wednesday, it became the first (and only) river in the world to be granted the same legal rights as a human being, the Guardian reports. The Whanganui Iwi is the local tribe that lives near the river, and they have long believed that the river is not just a source of water and food, but is actually their ancestor. That is because after many years, Whanganui River has been recognized by the New Zealand government as a living entity, therefore it's now protected by the same rights as any human being.

New Zealand's Whanganui River has always been sacred to the local Māori, known as the Whanganui Iwi-but it now has a new claim to fame.

As our rivers become polluted from dairy intensification and foreign interests manage to take hundreds of thousands of litres a day for free, viewing our environment as a real living life being with the same legal rights as a human makes flawless sense. One guardian will be appointed by Parliament, and the other by the local Maori tribe.

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The Crown will also pay up for its damages, with a settlement that includes a grant of NZ$80 million (around $56 million USD) as restitution to the Whanganui Iwi, as well as an additional NZ$1 million ($703,000 USD) meant to help establish a legal framework for the now-person.

Chris Finlayson, New Zealand Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, admitted the arrangement is a unique one in the country's history - but he says it's not as unfamiliar as you may think.

"I know the initial inclination of some people will say it's pretty unusual to give a natural resource a legal personality", said New Zealand's Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.

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"But it's no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies", The New Zealand Herald quoted Finlayson as saying.

Although New Zealand now feels compelled to grant human rights to non-living entities in the nation, the country allows women of any age to have an abortion under a number of circumstances.

Watch this space for the Whanganui River representation.

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