Protesters took to the streets of Honolulu Tuesday to publicly voice their opposition to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
Construction of the telescope, slated to be built on Mauna Kea, has already been postponed several times as protests gained momentum throughout the state and the world.
A large crowd marched from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Na Lama Kukui building to the law firm representing the telescope’s developer in downtown Honolulu to the State Capitol.
The group arrived at Gov. David Ige’s office by 11 a.m. where they were met by Mike McCartney, the governor’s chief of staff, and Kekoa Kaluhiwa, deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
A closed-door meeting with the governor followed.
Protesters requested that the environmental impact statement process be reopened on the master lease from DLNR to the University of Hawaii, which manages activity atop the volcano, to allow their participation. They also asked for a 30-day extension to the moratorium.
“A lot of people look at TMT as a Hawaiian issue or science issue, but it’s not either. It’s a human issue,” said Ruth Aloua of Mauna Kea Ohana. “So there’s a lot of things at stake and a lot of it deals with the desecration of the sacred temple in an area that many Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians have a spiritual connection to.”
The request comes as the university’s Board of Regents sets another special meeting to discuss management on Mauna Kea.
It is set for Sunday, April 26, at 11:30 a.m. the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Performing Arts Center.
Testimony will be accepted via mail, email at firstname.lastname@example.org and in person with a three-minute time limit.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs went on record Monday, urging the governor and UH president David Lassner to reach a solution to the conflict.
“We are urging that all the stakeholders — including the Governor, the Mauna Kea ‘Ohana, University of Hawai‘i, OHA, DLNR, Office of Mauna Kea Management, and TMT — come together to kūkākūkā on a collective resolution that is in the best interest of Mauna Kea and that addresses each stakeholders’ interests,” said OHA chairperson Robert K. Lindsey Jr. “Taking a step back and engaging respected voices on both sides of the issue in a productive and healthy conversation would give us a much-welcomed opportunity to find a positive outcome.”
“The Mauna Kea ‘Ohana leaders have cultivated a deep relationship with that ʻāina. They have taken on a kuleana that belongs to them—a kuleana that OHA cannot assume. Those leaders also have extensive knowledge about the harms the potential TMT project would bring to Mauna Kea from both environmental and cultural perspectives. This is why OHA believes their voices are crucial in the discussions,” said OHA chief executive officer Kamanaʻopono Crabbe.
Last week, Ige released the following statement:
“My understanding is that TMT followed an almost seven-year planning and permitting process, which included public hearings and community input. Following this process, project permits were issued. The TMT team is legally entitled to use its discretion to proceed with construction. I understand that not everyone will agree with this and recognize and respect their right to appeal through the court system.”
TMT leadership has not announced when construction will resume.