Parliament has given a third reading to the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill.
The bill records the acknowledgements and apology given by the Crown to Whanganui iwi in Ruruku Whakatupa Te Mana o Te Iwi of Whanganui, gives effect to the provisions of the deed of settlement that establishes Te Pā Auroa nā Te Awa Tupua, and gives effect to the deed of settlement that settles the historical claims of Whanganui Iwi as those claims relate to the Whanganui River.
The legislation establishes a new legal framework for the Whanganui River, Te Awa Tupua, which recognises the river as an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea.
It will come into force on the day after the bill receives the Royal assent.
The Minister of Treaty of Waitangi negotiations, Christopher Finlayson, says the approach of granting legal personality to a river is unique.
“It responds to the view of the iwi of the Whanganui River which has long recognised Te Awa Tupua through its traditions, customs and practise," he says.
“This legislation recognises the deep spiritual connection between the Whanganui Iwi and its ancestral river and creates a strong platform for the future of Whanganui River.”
The settlement includes financial redress of $80 million as well as an additional $1 million contribution towards establishing the legal framework for the river. The Crown will also contribute $30 million towards a contestable fund to further the health and wellbeing of the Whanganui River.