Affording New Zealand rivers legal personality : a new vehicle for achieving Maori aspirations in co-management?
Morris, James Douglas Kahotea
Maori have a strong connection to rivers and wish to achieve particular cultural aspirations as a consequence of this. While the government is increasingly willing to engage with Maori in this area and draw on current natural resource management concepts, the legal system continues to restrict Maori from achieving their full aspirations. The central question in this thesis is whether affording New Zealand’s rivers legal personality would be a useful tool for the Government to employ in order to seek co-management with Maori and vice versa. The United States Law Professor Christopher Stone first explored this idea of giving legal personality to natural resources. This thesis argues that it is timely to consider the application of this idea in the context of New Zealand’s rivers. It explores Maori aspirations in river management and tests draft legislation to implement a system of rivers having legal personality against these aspirations. The first four chapters set out the background, starting with an introduction of the issues in Chapter one. Chapter two describes the current law relating to rivers and Maori involvement in the management of rivers with local authorities. Chapter three explores Maori aspirations in river co-management and establishes three that are common to many iwi. Chapter four describes the current legal mechanisms for Maori to achieve their river management aspirations. The next three chapters explore the possibility of adopting a new mechanism that may better enable Maori to achieve their aspirations: affording rivers legal personality. Chapter five introduces and presents Stone’s idea of affording legal personality to natural resources, such as rivers. By setting out draft legislation in the form of the Rivers Bill for implementing Stone’s idea, the following two chapters test whether Stone’s idea could be achieved in New Zealand. Chapter six introduces the Rivers Bill to illustrate the working possibilities of committing to affording rivers legal personality in New Zealand. Chapter seven concludes that the model legislation has the potential to achieve Stone’s idea in New Zealand and that this would achieve Maori aspirations in river co-management, better aligning the law of New Zealand rivers with the Maori worldview, and including enhanced legal protection for rivers generally.
Degree Name: Master of Laws
Degree Discipline: Faculty of Law
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: rivers; law and legislation; New Zealand; Riparian areas; Maori; management; politics; government
Research Type: Thesis
Appendix 1. Professor Alex Frame's 'Treaty Title Bill' -- Appendix 2. Official document #1: A. Frame, "Legal models for cooperation between Maori and the Crown in control of land and resources" (1991) (11 p.) -- Appendix 3. Official document #2: A. Frame, "Natural resources and the Treaty of Waitangi : an analysis of law and policy" (1992) (20, iii p.) -- Appendix 4. Model legislation: The Rivers Bill.