Whanganui River Settlement
Tutohu Whakatupua – Interim Agreement on Whole of River (Te Awa Tupua) Arrangement
On August 30, the Crown and negotiators for Whanganui Iwi signed a framework agreement setting out certain key elements that will form the basis for a settlement of Whanganui Iwi’s historical claims relating to the Whanganui River.
The agreement - Tūtohu Whakatupua – which sets out the position agreed on the Te Awa Tupua (whole of River) elements of the Whanganui River Settlement.
This is an interim agreement and the parties will continue their negotiations towards a full deed of settlement which will include these elements.
The central element of the agreement is that there will be:
Recognition of the status of the Whanganui River (including its tributaries) as Te Awa Tupua, an integrated, living whole from the mountains to sea.
Connected with recognising the status of the River as Te Awa Tupua (an integrated living whole) and the importance of protecting the River, the agreement also provides for:
- Two Guardians will be appointed to a guardianship role, Te Pou Tupua - one by the Crown and the other by the River iwi - and will act on behalf of Te Awa Tupua. The Guardians will protect its health and wellbeing and uphold its status and values.. The Guardians will act on behalf of Te Awa Tupua, not the iwi or the Crown.
- Vesting of the Crown-owned parts of the river-bed in the name of Te Awa Tupua. Any ‘landowner’ decisions in relation to the former Crown owned parts of the riverbed will be exercised by the Guardians on Te Awa Tupua’s behalf.
- Development of a set of Te Awa Tupua values recognising the intrinsic characteristics of the River and providing guidance to decision-makers.
- Development of a Whole of River Strategy by collaboration between iwi, central and local government, commercial and recreational users and other community groups. The Strategy will identify issues for the River, consider ways of addressing them, and recommend actions to implement the Strategy. The goal of the Strategy will be to ensure the long-term environmental, social, cultural and economic health and wellbeing of the River.
- Recognition of Te Awa Tupua as a legal entity reflecting the view of the River as a living whole and enabling the River to have legal standing and an independent voice.
The agreement does not signify the end of the settlement but is a significant step towards settlement and there remain matters of detail and additional redress to be negotiated between the parties including the recognition of the inextricable relationship of iwi with the River. However, the agreement sets out the key matters that have been agreed to date in the negotiations relating to Whanganui River as a whole.