November 10, 2017
River people offer new way to see the world
The naming of the first Te Pou Tupua for the Whanganui River is being called a victory for the tribe’s refusal to let go of its essence through 180 years of colonisation.
Dame Tariana Turia and tribal historian Turama Hawira were inducted at the weekend into the positions created under Te Awa Tupua Act, which gives the river the Whanganui River as an indivisible and living whole.
Gerrard Albert, the chair of the post-settlement Nga Tangata Tiaki o Whanganui Trust, says they will serve as the embodiment of the river’s legal personality and speak on its behalf.
He says in Waitangi Tribunal hearings 20 years ago, the kuia of the river emphasised how the river was te ha, the essence of the people.
That understanding continues to be passed on.
"So the crown is just starting to catch up and understand that if anything, the way we view the world should be seen through our children's eyes and if they are valued, when their world view is valued, they will feel that and not end up at the bottom of a whole lot of statistics that are negative," Mr Albert says.
Te Pou Tupua have committed to speaking to the communities of Te Awa Tupua from the mountain to the sea about how the new status can be use d to promote and enhance the health and well-being of the Whanganui River and its communities.
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