River length: around 300km
Whanganui River timeline created by Whanganui River Maori Trust Board :
1849: Right to eel fishing reserved to Maori in various streams
1877: Whanganui Iwi [tribes] object to Harbour Board regulations that threaten ancient fishing grounds and therefore destroy economic base of Iwi
1880: Eel weirs destroyed by Crown to clear river for steamer navigation and gold and coal prospecting
1882: gravel extracted from river for road building, further destroys fishing grounds
1884: Coal found at Tangarakau
1885: Salmon released in upper river. Steamer and mail service established.
1886-1888: over 501 Iwi members petition government to stop steamers, which are destroying eel and lamprey weirs
1888-1991: Crown continues to destroy weirs, drain swamps, and clear rapids
1891: Coal Mines Act
1895: Iwi take case to Supreme Court over customary fishing rights
1896: Whanganui River Trust Board (WRTB, arm of Crown) established, gives management control of river to colonists.
1898: Iwi seek compensation from Crown for gravel taken from river
1903: Coal Mines Act amended to vest beds of navigable rivers in His Majesty The King.
1907: Aotea Maori Land Court rules that Iwi are entitled to receive compensation for gravel extraction
1913: 196 members of Whanganui Iwi petition court to halt Crown appropriation of riparian lands under Scenic Reserves Act
1918: WRTB seeks legal advice to keep extracting gravel
1919: WRTB prohibits construction of more weirs by Whanganui Iwi
1920: Settlers propose series of hydroelectric dams on river, WRTB wins right to extract gravel
1927: Ke Piki Kotuku and others try to petition parliament for 300,000 compensation for loss of native rights regarding river, unsuccessful
1931-1937: Whanganui Iwi raise money for legal battles to protect rights regarding river (Awa)
1936: petition lodged to challenge ownership of Awa
1937: formal objection lodged to introduction of trout into river by Acclimatisation Authority
1939: Crown appeals against appellate court decision to Supreme Court, seeks to block ruling on river bed title
1948: Crown again appeals decision
1949: legal ruling that 1903 Coal Mine Amendment Act gave riverbed ownership to Crown, thus areas of riverbed included in land sales of adjacent land parcels
1950: Royal Commission of Inquiry established to determine if Iwi customarily owned river
1955: Court of Appeal finds that riverbed had been customarily owned under Maori custom
1959: Hikaia Amohia formally objects to diversion of river headwaters
1960: Headwaters diverted in order to provide more water for hydroelectric power scheme
1962: Court of Appeal says 1903 Act granted riverbed ownership to Crown, therefore there is no legal avenue for Whanganui Iwi to claim ownership
1969: Taumarunui Borough Council begins to receive annual financial compensation for diversion of headwaters, Whanganui Iwi receive nothing.
1977: Whanganui Iwi petition queen concerning river treaty rights
1981: Minister of Maori affairs, Ben Couch, recommends to parliament that they take no action
1986: New Zealand Gazette establishes water control orders over Whanganui River. Whanganui National Park established, but due to an Iwi petition, excludes river. Minister of Lands promises Iwi participation in park management but does not follow through.
1988: Whanganui River Maori Trust Board established to negotiate all outstanding customary rights claims by Whanganui Iwi.
1990: Iwi appeal Electricorps application for minimum flow regime in river. Planning Tribunal results in minimum flow provisions.
1991: Negotiations with Crown to address river ownership framework.
1993: Negotiations suspended
1994: framework for creation of three-tupuna rohae runanga implemented. Resource Management Act prompts greater Iwi participation in consent process.
1995: Whanganui Iwi occupy Pakaitore during 80 days, and commemorate the act annually
1997: Iwi treaty rights to customary fisheries recognized
1999: Te Rununga o te Awa Tupua O Whanganui officially formed, recognized as authority for Iwi governance.
2000: Whanganui River Claim negotiation team formed
2001: Pakaitore vested as historic reserve
2003: Terms of Negotiation document signed by Crown and Whanganui Iwi, later that year Iwi oppose further 35 year resource consent to divert Whanganui headwaters in Environmental Court
2004: 30,000 person foreshore and seabed march from Te Rerenga Wairua to parliament