The river is an important part of the local culture. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Felix Engelhardt
North Island's Whanganui River has been granted the same legal rights and privileges as a human being.
The peculiar move follows more than 160 years of legal wrangling between New Zealand's authorities and the native Maori people who have long fought for the river's rights.
Their success means that the interests of the river will now be represented by two people - one a member of the Maori tribes and the other a Crown official.
"I know the initial inclination of some people will say it's pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality," said Chris Finlayson, New Zealand's Treaty Negotiations Minister.
"But it's no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies."
The court's decision has certainly been a cause for much celebration among the Maori.
"The river as a whole is absolutely important to the people who are from the river and live on the river," said Adrian Rurawhe, a New Zealand MP who represents the Maori people.
"From a Whanganui viewpoint the wellbeing of the river is directly linked to the wellbeing of the people and so it is really important that's recognised as its own identity."
Source: BBC News | Comments (6)
Whanganui River, New Zealand