News of an astonishing agreement that recognises the status of a river in New Zealand as Te Awa Tupua, i.e. “an integrated, living whole”. New Zealand’s Minister for Treaty for Waitangi Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson stated:
Under the settlement, the river is regarded as a protected entity, under an arrangement in which representatives from both the iwi and the national government will serve as legal custodians towards the Whanganui’s best interests.
Whanganui iwi also recognise the value others place on the river and wanted to ensure that all stakeholders and the river community as a whole are actively engaged in developing the long-term future of the river and ensuring its wellbeing.
I have taken my first plunge into blogging here close on the heels of rioting in urban England. Many of the first televised reactions with those affected first and first-hand—the non-rioting residents of some London neighbourhoods—revealed the shocks to many people’s sense of place, particularly in terms of their identifying with the place they live in. One black woman’s plaintive response sticks in my mind: “…but this is England”, as if this kind of thing doesn’t and shouldn’t happen in her place, her home, her England. Issues of belonging lie beneath the surface of what has happened too—“this is our community, and we have come here to get it back on its feet again”.