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OHA Disappointed by Arrest of Protestor, Removal of Ahu

June 21, 2019, 7:57 AM HST (Updated June 21, 2019, 8:00 AM)
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The Office of Hawaiian Affairs issued a statement on June 20, 2019, after the June 20, 2019, announcement of the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources’ decision to issue a notice to proceed to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project on Maunakea

TMT protest, April 2015. PC: Kuʻ‘uipo Freitas

on Hawaiʻi Island.

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Four unauthorized structures were removed from Maunakea early yesterday by multiple state agencies. The structures were on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property on Maunakea Access Road near the Daniel K. Inouye Highway intersection, on Department of Land and Natural Resources property near the mid-level facilities on Maunakea Access Road at the 9,000-foot elevation and on the TMT site on the summit of the mountain. They were removed “so that construction of the telescope can begin safely,” the DLNR said.

The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court ruled that the two ahu on the TMT site did not constitute a traditional or customary right or practice, and they were removed with guidance from Native Hawaiian cultural advisors.

“The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is disappointed by the arrest of a Kiaʻi and the dismantling of several symbolic structures on Mauna Kea today. These acts and the manner in which they were conducted, with little to no consultation with the Native Hawaiian community and OHA, exemplify the state and UH’s longstanding and blatant disregard of Mauna Kea’s significance to our beneficiaries, whose deep connection to the sacred mountain was embodied by the ahu and hale pili removed today. The failure to consult with the Native Hawaiian community and OHA prevented government officials from fully understanding the mana imbued over years into these structures.

The absence of these cultural structures has deprived the Mauna of an important contemporary Native Hawaiian cultural presence on this sacred place beset with foreign activities. Today is just another sad chapter in the state and UH’s longstanding mismanagement of Mauna Kea, and only affirms the urgent need for a change in management of Mauna Kea as sought by OHA’s lawsuit against DLNR and the UH.

We ask government officials to carefully consider the safety and well-being of our people and work towards a peaceful resolution.

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