Calls Renewed for Halt of TMT Project
Construction on the Thirty Meter Telescope project will resume Wednesday with continued resistance from those who hold Mauna Kea sacred.
According to an Associated Press report, approximately 20 people are already camped out near the TMT construction site. Some told the media outlet that they are “bracing to be arrested” when work on the project starts up again.
On April 2, 31 people were arrested for blocking attempts for TMT crews to reach the construction site. Those arrests ignited the debate, both locally and globally, on the divide between protecting Mauna Kea, its natural resources, and cultural significance, and the booming interest in astronomy, a field that promises to bring money and jobs into the local economy and aims to make Hawai’i a leader in the field.
Those 31 people, known as the “Mauna Kea 31” or “Koakuamauna,” are once again calling for an end to the TMT project, citing the Hawaiian term “Ho’oponopono.”
“Hoʻoponopono is not a process of mediation or any type of negotiation. It is an honest and strict process and attempt of making right what is wrong,” said Kahoʻokahi Kanuha in a statement by the Koakuamauna group. They are asking leaders from every organization involved, including Governor David Ige, University of Hawai’i at Hilo chancellor Donald Straney, University of Hawai’i president David Lassner, and TMT chairman Henry Yang, to come to a conclusion using this Hawaiian practice instead of going through the courts.
The call for Ho’oponopono is also being made in the courts. Legal documents show that on May 28, three of the 31 arrested individuals – Jim Albertini, Ronald Fujiyoshi, and Gary Oamilda – filed a motion to seek Ho’oponopono instead of going to trial.
On June 18, the option was presented to 20 of those Koakuamauna members during a court appearance in Waimea by Judge Barbara Takase. The group of 31 says that two of its members declined to take that option and chose to proceed to a trial.
“It is our sincere hope that all parties involved will see the value in Ho‘oponopono and make the concerted effort to resolve this issue in the most culturally and morally appropriate way,” said Lākea Trask in the group’s statement. They say that if this does not work, court proceedings will resume on Dec. 3.