IN 2008, ECUADOR WAS THE FIRST COUNTRY to codify “rights of nature” in its constitution. But New Zealand is now the first country to grant legal personhood rights to specific pieces of nature. Te Urewera national park now officially has the same rights and powers as a citizen. So does the Whanganui River.
Pita Sharples, the former minister of Maori affairs, said about the ruling “This is a profound alternative to the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world.”