PHOTOS: TMT Resistance Holding Space at Base of Maunakea Access Road
In the aftermath of the state’s announcement last week that TMT will begin construction on Monday, July 15, 2019, with the aid of bolstered law enforcement resources due to safety concerns, over 150 Maunakea kiaʻi (protectors) set up camp at Puʻuhuluhulu at the base of the Maunakea Access Road, according to a July 13 press release issued by HULI.
The group staked off a 5-plus acre area to proclaim as a puʻuhonua, or sanctuary and traditional space of safety and peace.
“We know that the State of Hawaiʻi is ramping up for what could possibly be the largest mobilization of law enforcement agencies in recent memory,” said Kiaʻi Kahoʻokahi Kanuha. “Today was ultimately about the safety of our people.”
Puʻuhonua were traditional Hawaiian places of refuge and sanctuary where those who were wronged or had done wrong could go to for protection and safety. In lieu of the looming confrontation between the state and those who oppose the construction of the TMT, this group of Hawaiians came together to reclaim the practice of proclaiming this functional safe zone.
Kanuha asserted that, “It was about ensuring that we have a safe place to exercise our rights as a people.”
Puʻu Huluhulu is on Hawaiian Homes Trust Lands and is home to an ahu (altar) that was erected in 1999 by the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, a royal society established over 150 years ago by Kamehameha V. This ahu, that sits right at the base of the mauna, was built as a safe place so that kūpuna (elders) who could not make the trek up to the summit but wanted to acknowledge the mauna in their own way in a sacred space could do so. Puʻu Huluhulu therefore makes for a very relevant and appropriate space for this puʻuhonua and this was at the core of the collaborative efforts that took place today between the kiaʻi and members of the Royal Order.
According to Kiaʻi Andre Perez, research into the tradition of proclaiming a puʻuhonua revealed that the process “required an aliʻi who had the authority to declare” the space. Given that this royal society has cared for the ahu for years and that they represent the legacy of Kamehameha I, the group concluded that “the Royal Order of Kamehamehameha I would be appropriate to represent the aliʻi.”
Kiaʻi have already started to gather and hold space at this puʻuhonua and more are expected to be arriving tomorrow for vigils that will be held at the ahu on the hour, every hour, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There will be a gathering of cultural practitioners at Puʻu Huluhulu at the base of Mauna a Wakea from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, for a vigil to cleanse, clear, and protect Mauna a Wākea. Protocols will be conducted hourly (on the hour). For the masses who will be coming, chants will be shared and taught throughout the day. Cultural practitioners from all islands are welcomed to participate.
“We are peaceful, non-violent cultural and spiritual practitioners who are exercising our right to gather and to pule for our sacred mauna,” said Noenoe Wong-Wilson, executive director of the Lālākea Foundation. “We call on supporters in Hawaiʻi and around the world to join us in our prayers to protect Mauna Kea from further desecration. Under threat of violence and loss of our rights to gather and worship, we stand strong in our commitment to protect Mauna Kea.”
HULI was formalized in May to build capacity for Hawaiʻi-based activists and movements by providing trainings around organizing, nonviolent direct action and movement-building for people in Hawaiʻi. Their objective is to empower our community to struggle smarter, harder and for as long as it takes to win. They conduct training in non-violent direct action, organizing and movement building for the lāhui.