In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking)


New Zealand is taking bold steps to evolve its legal system by recognizing “legal personhood” status and rights for natural systems, including rivers and forests. Arising from agreements to settle treaty violations with indigenous Maori, the recognition of the Te Urewera Forest and the Whanganui River as legal entities is a growing approach (following related efforts in Ecuador and elsewhere) for shifting law towards a more ethical, eco-centric standard. 

“In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking),” The New York Times, July 13, 2016

  1. pat parenteau says:

    If a river said “I don’t want to be dammed” how would a New Zealand court deal with that?
    Snarkiness aside the serious question is how should courts resolve conflicting values in use and preservation of natural resources? The late Joe Sax spent a career trying to articulate a eco-centric coda for the US, with limited success. Perhaps we can build on his scholarship and win larger gains in more enlightened legal systems.

In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking)