Whanganui River and Te Urewera Treaty Settlements: Innovative developments for the practice of rangatiratanga in resource management
This thesis concerns the recent innovative developments in the Whanganui River and Te Urewera Treaty settlements of 2014. The Whanganui River has become the first specific environmental resource to receive the rights and status of a legal person. Te Urewera has been removed from the 1980 National Parks Act to also become its own legal person. Both legal personalities will be co-managed by boards of equal Crown and iwi members. The Te Urewera Board will, however, be rearranged in 2018 to have a Tūhoe majority, another first for Treaty of Waitangi settlements. These new features are considered particularly innovative in this thesis because of the context of Crown indivisible sovereignty and its unequal share of power in negotiating settlements. This thesis considers the ability of these settlements to provide space for iwi to practice rangatiratanga in relation to the resource that is central to their history and identity. If rangatiratanga is considered in this context to be the ability of iwi to practice self-determination and autonomy, then these settlements go further than previously seen because the application of the legal personality and the way it is co-managed is based for the most part on the worldview of the iwi. However, this worldview will continue to be practiced within the wider context of the English political and legal system. Because the improvement of the health and wellbeing of the Whanganui River and Te Urewera will be based on tikanga and mātauranga, Whanganui iwi and Tūhoe have been provided with more space than the Crown has previously conceded to practice rangatiratanga over these resources.