In an interesting and groundbreaking decision, the Whanganui River has been given the status of a living entity. With this decision, the river will now have the same legal rights as that of a human being in New Zealand. The Whanganui is the third largest river in New Zealand. The demand for the recognition of the river as a living entity was made by the local Māori tribe of Whanganui in the North Island. The tribe has been fighting to get this recognition for their river for nearly 140 years. The tribe believes that the river is their ancestor and should be treated like a human being. The members of the tribe are said to have wept with joy when they came to know that the river has been granted the status of a living entity.
Speaking on the development, the lead negotiator of the tribe Gerrard Albert said, “The reason we have taken this approach is because we consider the river an ancestor and always have. We have fought to find an approximation in law so that all others can understand that from our perspective treating the river as a living entity is the correct way to approach it, as in indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the last 100 years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management.”