Rights of Whanganui
Activity 1: The leader gathers the participants in a circle. He/she tells them to examine the papers that were previously glued to the board in a mixed way. Examples of living and non-living things in nature are written on the sticky papers. After reading, everyone is told to arrange them together with the group in order of importance. Without intervening in the process, the leader observes and notes the children's approach and behaviour towards each other.
The following are written on the papers.
Bee, Lion, Tree, Mountain, Human, River, Giraffe, Monkey, Wolf, Gold mine, Squirrel, Deer. The ranking made by the children hangs on the board throughout the process.
Activity 2: The leader gathers the children in a circle again. He tells them about a river that has been flowing for thousands of years and the forest surrounding it. They create a river using cushions. He/she gives the instruction that hundreds of creatures live around this river and that they will start to move silently when he/she gives a signal as one of those creatures. After moving for a while, all animals freeze with the leader's signal. Whoever the leader touches, that person comes to life and expresses the environment he/she lives in and his/her relationship with the river with a sentence by saying which creature he/she is.
Activity 3: They act according to the instructions given by the leader. You are a lion. It is morning and you wake up. You are very hungry and you take action to hunt. You have caught a prey and now you eat it. Now you are walking as a happy lion with a full belly. You realise you are very thirsty and you go down to the river. You drink water from the river. Here the leader signals the participants to freeze again. Then he moves on to the second animal. You are a turtle, you are looking for fruits to eat. You can smell fresh berries ahead, but there are high stones in front of you and you have to go around them to pass. You had to make a lot of effort for this. When you arrive, you see that the deer have finished all the fruits. Suddenly you realise there is a danger approaching and retreat into your shell. The danger must have passed. You slowly take your head out of your shell and look around. All the fruit is gone. Being a very thirsty tortoise, you go to the bank of the stream and drink some water. Once again the leader freezes the process and moves on to a third animal. You are birds living in the forest. In the morning you start flying in search of food. You fly straight to the place where there are plant seeds. You have to be careful while eating the plant seeds because there may be dangers waiting for you in the environment. When you are full, you start flying again. After a while you feel thirsty, so you go straight to the stream to drink water. The leader stops the process again. The process is repeated with the story of the wolf, squirrel, snake, zebra and a tree. Then all the animals are told to find a place to sleep at the end of the day. Night falls and all animals fall asleep. When all participants have closed their eyes and fallen asleep, the leader collects the stream made of cushions. When the animals wake up the next day and go to the river to drink water, they find that the river has dried up. Children give their ideas about what happened to the stream.
Activity 4: The leader gathers the children in a circle again. He continues his story. "While all these creatures lived like this for thousands of years, one day people came and settled near the river. At first, they build a small village, but in the hundreds of years that pass, they grow, develop and create giant cities. Their technology, which previously consisted of stones and arrows, develops until they build cars, factories and electronic equipment. However, this development, far from meeting their needs, causes them to need more and more things. The most important of these is new energy sources to run these tools. People come together and discuss to solve the problem arising from this need. Finally, they come up with an idea that can solve this problem. To build a dam on the river. Thus, they will be able to meet all the energy that people need. The water of the river is retained for the construction of the dam and the river no longer flows. But there are some people who object to the dam being built. One group of people argued that no matter what, everything in nature should be used according to human needs because nature exists for humans, while others argued that humans are not superior to nature; humans are equal to other living things in nature. Unable to decide whether the needs of people or the existence of nature were more important, the government official decided to bring the parties together to get their views on the issue." The leader ends the story here.
Activity 5: (corridor of consciousness): The leader divides the group in two and forms a corridor in pairs, calling the group on the left A and the group on the right B. The leader then tells the group that the story does not end here and that they should help the government official to make a decision. The confused official:
A's think that every living thing in nature has equal rights, because....
Bs think that human beings cannot be equal to other living things in nature, because......
Bs think that human beings cannot be equal to the creatures in nature, because......
They are told to start and complete the sentence. At each step, the leader says the sentence to the left and then to the right. When they reach the end of the corridor, the leader turns back and starts walking again and this time A's and B's make their possible sentences as B and A respectively.
Activity 6: The leader gathers all the participants in a circle and tells them that in this story the official decided to build the dam because he decided that it was much more important to fulfil the technological needs of the people. The participating children are divided into two groups. The first group is given five minutes to discuss what happened to the forest and living creatures living around the river after the dam was built, and the second group is given five minutes to discuss how the dam might have affected people after it was built. At the end of the time, the groups transfer the subject they discussed through animations.
Activity 7: Leader reads a news clipping. "The New Zealand Parliament has recognised the Whanganui River in the North Island as a "living entity" and granted it legal status. The rights of the Whanganui, the third longest river in the country and considered sacred by New Zealand's indigenous Maori people, will be represented in the courts by a member of the Maori tribe and the Crown."
The leader then prompts the participants to answer the following questions, reflecting on what has been done in today's workshop.
Does a river in nature have equal rights with humans and why?
Is it right that the needs of humans are higher than the needs of beings in nature, why?
What are the consequences of an unequal approach between nature, humans and other living things?
Is there or should there be equality between people, why?
Do you think teachers should treat children equally, why?
Throughout this workshop, do you think we have had any behaviours and approaches that could disrupt each other's perception of equality?
At the end of the discussion, the leader reads out any negative behaviours that the children observed and noted in the first activity without naming them.
Activity 8: The leader distributes paper and pencil to the children. The leader tells the children that they have to prepare an article on "the place of humans in nature and their perception of equality in nature" for a magazine about nature. The leader states that this came at the last minute and that they have about ten minutes before the magazine goes to print. At the end of the time, the writings are collected and the workshop is finalised.