I Am the River, the River Is Me

Petr Lom

Māori tribal leader Ned Tapa takes a group of friends and family on a breathtaking canoe trip down the Whanganui River in Aotearoa, as the Māori call New Zealand. The Whanganui is the first river to be recognized as a legal person. Together, this diverse group of people embraces the spirit of the river and tries to find what is needed to save the planet.

The Whanganui River in Aotearoa/New Zealand is the first river in the world to be recognized by law as a legal person, and as a living and indivisible being. The Māori fought for these rights for over 150 years. Māori river guardian Ned Tapa takes a group of friends, family and activists on a 5-day canoe trip down this sacred river. Joining them are a First Nations Elder from Australia and his daughter, who are activists dedicated to save their own dying river back home, an Australian artist and an international film crew.

Everyone in the group – including the film crew – has a voice and becomes a character in this film. The river organically unites them in their goal to bring about a fundamental shift in values, to protect our planet for future generations. The Whanganui River sparked a global ‘rights of nature’ movement and is the iconic main character of the film. Filled with beautiful meditative images of the breathtaking nature. ‘If you sit and listen, you’ll hear the country singing,’ Ned Tapa says. ‘All together, intertwined, in harmony, in sync.’ 


Petr Lom
Corinne van Egeraat, Mette Cheng Munthe-Kaas
Country of production
Netherlands, The, Norway
88 minutes
Spoken language
English, Maori
Production company
Dutch distributor
Cinema Delicatessen