The Guardian reports that, after 140 years of negotiation, a Māori tribe has won recognition that the Whanganui river must be treated as a living entity.  A tribal spokesperson said that the new law honoured and reflected their worldview and could set a precedent for other Māori tribes in New Zealand to follow in Whanganui’s footsteps:

“We can trace our genealogy to the origins of the universe,” said Albert. “And therefore rather than us being masters of the natural world, we are part of it. We want to live like that as our starting point. And that is not an anti-development, or anti-economic use of the river but to begin with the view that it is a living being, and then consider its future from that central belief.”

Meanwhile, more generally in New Zealand, there is considerable concern about rivers.  Forest & Bird has been fighting to protect fresh water to ensure New Zealand rivers and lakes are ecologically healthy for the future.  It says that, although the government has released its new “Clean Water” standards, it’s not good news, as they don’t require any improvement to water quality, except for the very worst rivers.  Forest & Bird says that this will lock in current levels of pollution, degrade valuable freshwater habitat, and increase the risk of getting sick from swimming in a river from 1 in 100 to 1 in 20.  What’s more, it says, the majority of New Zealand’s rivers and streams will not be covered by the standard at all.
For more detail, click here.  There’s also a Forest & Bird blog on the problems of the Ngaruroro river.

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