Understanding the legal rights of the ancestor Te Awa Tupua.
Ko au te awaTyson Campbell
Ko te awa ko au
I am the river. The river is me.
The Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act 2017 settled the longest-running litigation over Māori land claims in New Zealand history. This river, or ancestor stretches just over 290km and is a pivotal example of how Indigenous and settler-state ideologies can work together to form innovative negotiations that center Indigenous onto-epistemologies in an Anglo-Celtic informed legal sphere.
Amongst a very evident anthropocentric ecological downfall, this river now legally possesses very similar rights to that of a human.
Through the outcome of this legislation, what resistive methods and lessons can be drawn to elevate other Indigenous people, their communities and whenua beyond the New Zealand context, who have also fallen prey to a destructive, pervasive and divisive colonial paradigm. Considering that this legislation looks at Indigenous governance as a way of moving forward, what aspirational failures can be elucidated to us as Industrialised, contemporary, developed-world subjects who find ourselves paralysed in a nihilist eclipse.
Using Te Awa Tupua to ground my project, I will aim to tease out the complex set of relations and ethics that arise when conducting research with manawhenua (local Indigenous population) as a Māori researcher.