The Māori Affairs Select Committee has provided its report on the Te Awa Tupua Bill (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) back to the House. As a consequence, a Second Reading will take place today.
The Second Reading is an important step toward the passage through Parliament of legislation that will see the legal recognition of the Whanganui River as Te Awa Tupua, an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea, incorporating all its physical and metaphysical elements and cementing the inalienable relationship of all hapū and iwi of Te Awa Tupua with the River.
The Bill was introduced to Parliament and had its First Reading in May 2016. The Bill was then referred to the Māori Affairs Select Committee which received and heard submissions between June and September.
A final reading will be required for the Bill to become law. This will take place in 2017.
Other iwi Settlement Bills are being heard in the same sitting. A group of kaumātua and Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui Trustees will attend the second reading on behalf of the wider iwi.
The Te Awa Tupua Bill will give effect to Ruruku Whakatupua, the Deed of Settlement that was signed between Whanganui Iwi and the Crown on the 5 August 2014 in settlement of the historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of Whanganui Iwi relating to the Whanganui River.
The Bill will establish a new legal framework for the Whanganui River – Te Pā Auroa nā Te Awa Tupua – centred on the legal recognition of Te Awa Tupua.
Te Awa Tupua will have its own rights and innate values, Tupua te Kawa, which must be recognised by relevant decision-makers, and the Crown and Iwi of the River will jointly appoint two persons to the role of Te Pou Tupua, who will be charged with upholding the River’s new status.
Tupua te Kawa includes the inalienable relationship of all River iwi and hapū with the Whanganui River, and also the shared responsibility of the Iwi and the other communities of the River to work collaboratively to the common purpose of the health and wellbeing of Te Awa Tupua.
Native Affairs covered this story earlier this year.
Native Affairs Summer Series - Whanganui river to be recognised as a person