An historic agreement on the Whanganui River has been signed.
Whanganui River Iwi have sought to protect the river and have their interests recognised since 1873.
The Crown and iwi negotiators today agreed on key elements that will form the basis for a settlement of the claims.
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson says the agreement recognises the status of the river as Te Awa Tupua, an integrated, living whole.
He says it doesn't signify the end of the settlement but is a significant step.
The river's status as a legal entity will enable it to have legal standing and an independent voice.
In addition, two people have been appointed to act as guardians to protect the status, health and well-being of the river.