River Ownership: Inalienable Taonga and Impartible Tupuna Awa

marama muru-lanning


This article examines Maori relationships with the State, the ownership of rivers and issues of identity.

At a meeting at Hopuhopu which was attended by over sixty Waikato elders, Waikato iwi’s principal negotiator for Treaty of Waitangi claims Robert Mahuta declared:
'We don’t need a bloody court document to tell us we own the river, we know we do'.

This paper examines Maori understandings of ownership. However, as I hope to illustrate, in many contexts what is more important for Maori than ‘owning’ in the conventional sense are issues of authority, status and prestige.


Identity, Maori-State relationships, Ownership of Rivers, Property Rights

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol6iss2id124