They own themselves: Mick Strack, ‘Land and rivers can own themselves’, International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, 9, 1, 2017
Abstract: Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe and critically review the new tenure arrangements that have been established to recognise Maori relationship with land (Te Urewera) and river (Whanganui River), to ascribe them their own legal personality. Design/methodology/approach: The paper describes the development of the legal arrangements in Aotearoa New Zealand for Treaty settlements with Maori, and documents the various forms of rights and divisions of space that are changing the face of property institutions. Findings: The paper finds that the acknowledgement of land and nature as having their own legal status and therefore owned by themselves is bold and innovative, but is still not a full recognition of customary tenure. The recognition of rivers as indivisible entities is stated but not clearly implemented. Practical implications: Maori interests and authority are now more clearly articulated, and Maori may expect to be able to engage in customary practices and restore their traditional relationships with their land more explicitly. Originality/value: This is an innovative development in tenure arrangements seen by some as providing for the rights of nature, but actually responding to the rights of the indigenous people. This article may inform others about possible models for more diverse tenure arrangements elsewhere.
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