We are the River

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We are the River (2021) 15 min.

The Whanganui River is the second longest river in New Zealand. After 150 years of legal struggle by the Maori indigenous people, it was the first river in the world to be granted legal personhood by law in 2017. The river is now recognized as an indivisible living being whose health and well-being must be respected. This living being is enshrined in law to incorporate all physical and “metaphysical elements” – recognizing also it’s spiritual importance for the Maori.

This short documentary is about Net Tapa, a Maori who has always lived along the river. He works as a Maori cultural advisor at the local hospital. Through Ned’s eyes, we learn about the Maori perspective on nature: how we can live in harmony, respect and reverence for the natural world around us. In a time where the Maori culture is having a renaissance, and is an example to the world in how indigenous knowledge can save our planet.


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Director, Camera and Edit: Petr Lom
Producer: Corinne van Egeraat
Colorist: Michiel Rummens

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Without the River I am nobody.

Ned Tapa
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