New Zealand mountain is granted personhood

An agreement has been signed between the government and eight tribes

New Zealand mountain is granted personhood

Mount Egmont near New Plymouth in Taranaki, New Zealand | Image: David Davies/PA Archive/PA Images

A mountain in New Zealand is to be given a legal personality in its own right.

Mount Egmont, or Mount Taranaki as it also known, will become a legal personality with joint responsibility shared between local Maori and the government.

The agreement was signed with eight tribes of Taranaki in parliament on Wednesday, according to Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Andrew Little.

He says: "This is a great day for the people of Taranaki.

"As a New Plymouth local I grew up under the gaze of the maunga so I'm particularly pleased with the respect accorded to local tangata whenua and the legal protection and personality given to the mountain," the minister said.

The Record of Understanding relates to collective cultural redress over Egmont National Park.

Little adds: "The Record of Understanding outlines the broad terms including repealing the Mount Egmont Vesting Act, and giving legal personality and the creation of a joint Crown-Iwi governance entity for the area within the national park.

"Today’s announcement is a major step towards implementing seven individual treaty settlements signed in Taranaki over the past 20 years."

The legal personality requirement recognises the mountain’s status in a similar way to the Whanganui river, which was granted legal personhood earlier this year.

Mount Taranaki is around 120,000 years old and last erupted in 1775.

It is often described as 'New Zealand's most climbed mountain'.