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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New Zealand. Will whales have the same rights as humans? The call of the Maori king

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The king of the Māori people has called for whales to be given similar rights to human beings to increase protection for these huge and majestic animals. A few years ago, the mountain and the river were granted legal personality in New Zealand.

King Tuheitia Pootatau te Wherowhero VII supported, among other things, recognizing the right of whales to live in a healthy environment, which would allow them to rebuild their natural environment.

“The singing of our ancestors has weakened and their environment is threatened, so we must act now,” the king said in a statement.

“We must not close our eyes”

The statement, which was signed in addition to the Maori king by Cook Islands tribal leader Travel Tou Ariki, also calls for greater scientific consideration of indigenous peoples' knowledge, which will allow for a “more holistic approach” to whale conservation.

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“We must no longer close our eyes. Whales are crucial to the health of our entire ocean ecosystem. Their decline is disrupting the delicate balance of all life in Ta Moana (oceans),” the statement said.

Whales are one of the largest mammals in the world. WWF classifies six of the 13 species of large whales as threatened with extinction.

Blue whaleRick Beauregard/Shutterstock

Mountain and river with legal personality

In 2017, New Zealand granted legal personality to Mount Taranaki and the Whanganui River, considered by Maori to be ancestral lands of special spiritual significance. Since then, several development projects have been slowed or canceled due to this status, requiring those implementing them to consult with local Maori communities.

Maori, an indigenous Polynesian people, constitute 17 percent of New Zealand's population (approximately 900,000 people).

Main photo source: Rick Beauregard/Shutterstock

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