East Hawaii News

Kū Kiaʻi Mauna Discusses Recent Mauna Kea Events

July 1, 2015, 3:35 PM HST
* Updated July 1, 4:01 PM
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Dozens of people who go by the name Kū Kiaʻi Mauna gathered in front of the King Kamehameha Statue at Aliiolani Hale in Honolulu Wednesday to address recent events that have occurred atop Mauna Kea.

“Without any formal call and very minimum organization and preparation, we were able to come together as one for a cause and a purpose much greater than any one individual,”  Kaho’okahi Kanuha, Kū Kiaʻi Mauna’s leader said. “Hawai’i is rising, we are rising, and I believe we are experiencing the greatest activation, mobilization, and unification of a Hawaiian people since 1897 and it is truly an honor and privilege to stand here with all of you in this effort to protect Mauna a Wakea, as well as protecting our rights as a people and a lahui.”

At the press conference, Kanuha addressed the recent closure of the Mauna Kea access road, saying that volunteer efforts to remove obstructions came from the protectors of Mauna Kea and that the group is unaware of the reason for the continued closure of the roadway.

“Although not part of our strategy for the day, rock walls were built in an effort in obstructing the access to those who wish to desecrate our sacred mountain. Since last Wednesday, June 24, the road under the jurisdiction of the State of Hawai’i has been closed and not accessible to the general public,” Kanuha stated. “We are unaware of the actual reason for this closure, but I can assure everyone that the road has been cleared of obstructions since Friday afternoon.”

Kanuha said he personally spoke with Department of Land and Natural Resources officials late last Wednesday, and that the group atop Mauna Kea volunteered to remove the rock. He noted that the removal was completed the next day. Two ahu that were also constructed on the roadway were reportedly removed on Friday. “Since Friday, all obstruction in the roadway have been cleared. It is unclear to us the reason for the continued closure leading up to the summit, but it is not because of anything done by the protectors.”

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Both employees of existing telescopes and protectors have been able to access the mountain safely on a daily basis, Kanuha said.

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Attorney General Douglas Chin said in a statement Wednesday that “Mauna Kea is a protected conservation district, forest reserve and hunting area.

“While we appreciate the effort of volunteers who helped clean up the summit road, the actions of certain individuals in the past week led to the University of Hawai’i’s closure of the road.

“Deliberately building a rock wall in the middle of a road without warning threatens public safety. Purposely placing boulders in a road could get someone killed. Commercial activities and camping in this protected area without a permit are against State regulations. This is not a statement against the content of the protest, but the conduct.”

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Following the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station’s closure last Wednesday, the facilities, including a waterline, were locked up or shut down, leaving not only protesters, but also tourists, without bathroom facilities, according to Kanuha. Kū Kiaʻi Mauna has organized temporary portable restroom units to address the lack of facilities.

Kanuha also addressed comments made regarding the group camping on the mountain, saying that they are not there to camp, but rather to watch over the mountain.

“We are on the mauna to protect it, and its protection at this time requires constant vigilance. Our presence on the mauna will remain,” Kanuha proclaimed. “We are simply going into a time of hoomalu to reflect, re-strategize, reform, re-energize, rebuild, and re-organize. We are as committed as ever to protecting mauna a wakea from further desecration. When TMT and its affiliates attempt to ascend the sacred Mauna a Wakea, we will be there, in the hundreds, if not in the thousands.”

In addition to commenting on last week’s events, Kanuha touched on Governor David Ige’s comments made on Friday regarding the respect of culture and the placement of rocks as acts of vandalism.

Kanuha questioned Governor Ige’s commitment to Hawai’i’s host culture, asking how the enforcement of TMT’s project is a sign of respect to the values of the people of the land. Kanuha believes all people should have the right to determine what is sacred and they should be able to protect it, stating that Governor Ige’s actions and statements amount to a “blatant disregard and disrespect for all of Hawai’i.”

In his statement Attorney General Chin noted that the courts are the place for people to seek legal assistance, and that the state cannot allow for people to take the law into their own hands.

“We respect those who choose to exercise their Fire Amendment rights within the boundaries of the law.”

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