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TMT Opponents Prep Ahead of Crew Movement

Posted November 11, 2015, 06:53 PM HST Updated November 12, 2015, 06:43 AM HST
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Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo, Andre Perez and Kahookahi Kanuha sit in front of Judge Barbara Takase Thursday morning in Waimea’s Hamakua District Court. The three were arrested on June 24 for an obstruction charge after participating in a blockade on Mauna Kea that prevented Thirty Meter Telescope construction crews from driving up to the mountain’s summit. File photo by Megan Moseley.

Thirty Meter Telescope opponents are strategizing their future plan of action in the wake of Tuesday’s announcement that a TMT crew would be sent up to the Mauna Kea construction site to “conduct site preparation activities.”

“It confirms, and in a sense, validates our stance and what we have been saying for a long time,” said Kaho’okahi Kanuha, one of the leaders of the group of individuals that refers to themselves as Mauna Kea “Protectors.” “They don’t have a respect for the culture, a respect for the place, and by the looks of it, they don’t even have respect for the legal process they agreed to be apart of.”

Kanuha was referring to the current Supreme Court legal battle that has not yet resulted in a verdict.

Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board of Governors said in a statement on Tuesday that “We are deeply committed to respectful stewardship of the mountain, and to the vision that integrates science and culture in Hawai’i and enriches the educational opportunities and local economy. We will continue to follow the state’s laws, procedures, and processes, as we have done for more than eight years, while respectfully awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision.”

It is a touchy situation, according to Kanuha, who says that the “Protectors” want the mountain to be safe and TMT’s machinery is leaking oil. He said that TMT officials are making it seem like maintenance and surveying are the main efforts of ascending the mountain.

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“I want to be clear. We are for maintenance because it has been documented and we have been saying since April that there are oil leaks happening on the mountain,” said Kanuha.

However, Kanuha said potential maintenance would not be out of care for the mountain, but rather an attempt for personal gain, because “they want to fix it so they can further desecrate the mountain.”

Following nearly five months of TMT inactivity on Mauna Kea, “Protectors” are gearing up for what’s to come.

“Ultimately I don’t think things will be much different than the last time,” said Kanuha. “I think we can expect much of the same, just a different time of the year, different month, different day. That’s it.”

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