The Whanganui river (NZ) has the same rights as a person

In 2017, New Zealand granted legal personhood to the Whanganui River.

The Whanganui river is one of the country’s most important natural resources.

The river has been revered for centuries by the Whanganui tribes who take their name, spirit and strength from the river they live near.

It became the first river in the world to be recognised as a legal person in 2017, following one of New Zealand’s longest-running court cases.

The tribes have relied on it for much of their food, travelled it by canoe and built villages on its banks.

Having the river recognised as a legal person means any kind of abuse or threat to its waters, such as pollution or unauthorised activities, the river can sue.

It also means it can own property, enter contracts and be sued itself.

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