Hon Christopher Finlayson
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
15 March 2017
Whanganui River settlement passes third reading
The House of Representatives has passed Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill through its third reading
“Whanganui Iwi has fought for recognition of its relationship with the Whanganui River since the 1870’s,” Mr Finlayson
said. “Today brings the longest running litigation in New Zealand’s history to an end.”
The legislation will establish 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. Te Awa Tupua will have its own legal identity with all
the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.
“The approach of granting legal personality to a river is unique,” Mr Finlayson said. “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.
“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.”
Financial redress of $80 million is included in the settlement 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.
“This is an innovative settlement. The Crown is committed to working alongside Whanganui Iwi to ensure the success of
this settlement for Te Awa,” Mr Finlayson said.Iwi of the Whanganui River have pursued claims and sought protection of
the Whanganui River continually since the 1870s.
Negotiations between the Crown and Whanganui Iwi regarding the river formally began in 2009.
The Whanganui River Deed of Settlement was signed in 2014 and legislation was introduced in 2016.
The settlement package includes:
• Legal recognition of the river – Te Awa Tupua – and protection of the traditional values of the river.
• Establishment of Te Pou Tupua, two jointly-nominated people to speak on behalf of the river and promote its health and
• An agreed historical account and Crown apology.
• Cultural redress including a Crown relationship agreement, protection of customary activities and place name changes.
• Financial redress of $80 million and a $1 million contribution towards establishing the legal framework for the river.
• The parts of the riverbed currently in Crown ownership will be vested in Te Awa Tupua.
• A summary of the settlement can be found online at:www.govt.nz/dmsdocument/2731.pdf