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The River - a world first special individual

Ko te Awa te mātāpuna o te ora

The river is the source of spiritual and physical sustenance

E rere kau mai te Awa nui mai i te Kāhui Maunga ki Tangaroa

The great River flows from the mountains to the sea 

Ko au te Awa, ko te Awa ko au

I am the River and the River is me

Ngā manga iti, ngā manga nui e honohono kau ana, ka tupu hei Awa Tupua

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

Te Awa Tupua - Whanganui River

Flowing from Ōngarue in the North to the Tasman sea, the 290km Whanganui River is the second longest in the North Island, after the Waikato.

According to Māori tradition, in ancient times three mountains, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Taranaki, lived together in the centre of the North Island. One day Taranaki attempted to carry off Pīhanga, the wife of Tongariro. In the ensuing battle Taranaki was defeated. As he fled, he carved out the deep furrow of the Whanganui river.

The importance of the river is underscored by its declaration as a living entity with commensurate rights enshrined in the Te Awa Tupua legislation and a United Nations proclamation in 2017. Te Awa Tupua recognises the river as an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea.

Te Awa Tupua recognises a set of indigenous values as law that reflect the innate relationship of the River to the people and the people to the River as guardians and sovereign partners in protecting the mana of the river and leading water policy, management, and planning.  It also represents a move towards restorative justice and sustainable practices for healthy waterways.

The maxim ‘Ko au te Awa, ko te Awa ko au’ (I am the River and the River is me) proclaims the intrinsic ties that bind Te Awa Tupua and the people of the river to each other.

This encapsulates the concept of interconnectedness between people and the environment which lies at the heart of the way that Whanganui iwi view the world, and which forms the underlying premise of the settlement.

The Whanganui River Road and its people have always been connected to the heartbeat of the river; and your journey opens up your opportunity to connect to this special place.


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