Te Awa Tupua legislation

The Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act was passed in 2017.

The act recognises Te Awa Tupua as an indivisible and living whole comprising the Whanganui River from the mountains to the sea, with all its tributaries, physical and metaphysical elements.

The Te Awa Tupua Act

The Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act 2017 recognises a unique legal status for the Whanganui River and creates a framework at law to support the innate values of the Whanganui River, practised for centuries by Whanganui hapū and iwi.

Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui is the iwi authority for Te Awa Tupua.

Four values, called Tupua Te Kawa, guide all actions and decision-making to provide for the health and well-being of both the river and its people. The paradigm shift from merely speaking about the river to actively speaking to the river as a community is powered by this new status and the time-honoured values of Tupua Te Kawa.


Tupua te Kawa

Tupua te Kawa are the innate values of Te Awa Tupua. Tupua te Kawa is the name for the natural law and value system of Te Awa Tupua, which binds the people to the River and the River to the people.

The kawa are expressed in four overriding principles which shape relationships and interactions with Whanganui River:

Ko te Kawa Tuatahi: Ko te Awa te mātāpuna o te ora

The first principle: The River is the source of spiritual and physical sustenance

    • Te Awa Tupua is a spiritual and physical entity that supports and sustains both the life and natural resources within the Whanganui River and the health and wellbeing of the iwi, hapū and other communities of the River.

Ko te Kawa Tuarua: E rere kau mai i te Awa nui mai i te Kahui Maunga ki Tangaroa

The second principle: The great River flows from the mountains to the sea

    • Te Awa Tupua is an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea, incorporating the Whanganui River and all of its physical and metaphysical elements.

Ko te Kawa Tuatoru: Ko au te Awa, ko te Awa ko au

The third principle: I am the River and the River is me

    • The iwi and hapū of the Whanganui River have an inalienable interconnection with, and responsibility to, Te Awa Tupua and its health and wellbeing.

Ko te Kawa Tuawhā: Ngā manga iti, ngā manga nui e honohono kau ana, ka tupu hei Awa Tupua

The fourth principle: The small and large streams that flow into one another and form one River

    • Te Awa Tupua is a singular entity comprised of many elements and communities, working collaboratively for the common purpose of the health and well-being of Te Awa Tupua.


Te Pou Tupua

The purpose of Te Pou Tupua is to be the human face and act in the name of Te Awa Tupua. Te Pou Tupua is comprised of two people forming one station.

Te pou o te whakatupua
Te pou o te whakatawhito
Te pou o Ranginui e tū nei!

The celestial post
The ancient post
The pillar of universal order!

In November 2017 Turama Hawira and Dame Tariana Turia were officially inaugurated into the joint role of Te Pou Tupua at a ceremony at Ngāpuwaiwaha marae, Taumarunui.

Learn about Te Pou Tupua


Media productions and Whanganui River

I am the River, the River is me

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