OHA Board Calls on Governor to Rescind Emergency Proclamation for Mauna Kea

July 25, 2019, 4:36 PM HST (Updated July 25, 2019, 4:36 PM)
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TMT protest, July 15, 2019. PC: Gerald Besson

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Board of Trustees is the latest entity to call on Gov. David Ige to rescind the emergency declaration he issued for Mauna Kea, where kia‘i, or protectors, are in the middle of their 11th consecutive day blocking construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

On Thursday, July 25, 2019, the OHA Board approved a resolution that both calls for the governor to rescind the proclamation, as well as authorizes the OHA administration to advocate for the rights, safety and well-being of Native Hawaiian protectors and provide related-assistance as appropriate, according to an OHA press release.

“Our hearts go out to our beneficiaries peacefully demanding the protection of Maunakea,” said Trustee Dan Ahuna, chair of the OHA Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Maunakea. “Regardless of your position on the Thirty Meter Telescope, we all want the same thing—to mālama the mountain. Unfortunately, the state and the University of Hawaiʻi have spent the last half century failing their management responsibilities for this special place. Their longstanding stewardship failures are the real emergency on Maunakea. This is why we are suing the state and the university.”

Over the last two weeks, thousands of Native Hawaiians and others have gathered at Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu at the base of Mauna Kea to call for the protection of Mauna Kea. Kiaʻi leaders have formally asked OHA to help cover the cost for supplies to maintain the puʻuhonua, the release stated. OHA has also been asked to help coordinate or provide for legal observers and other health, safety and legal needs.

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“Our community is asking for OHA’s help,” said Trustee Ahuna. “Today’s resolution directs the OHA administration to review these requests and respond appropriately.”

With the approval of today’s resolution, the OHA Board also took the position of imploring that the state take steps to eliminate the potential for harm to Native Hawaiians seeking to uphold their cultural and spiritual beliefs and to voice their opposition to what the release described as a “decades-long pattern of mismanagement of Mauna Kea.”

In its release, OHA suggested the state could achieve this by:

  • Condemning and prohibiting any further government action to provoke or intimidate Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and others seeking to protect Mauna Kea
    Coordinating with government officials, UH, OHA and Native Hawaiian community members to meaningfully alleviate tensions
    Prohibiting the use of unwarranted force against those engaged in peaceful protest on Mauna Kea
    Ensuring the safety of all who wish to exercise their cultural practices and right to peaceful expression and opposition

OHA also took the position of strongly opposing the use of unwarranted force against Native Hawaiians engaged in peaceful protest on Mauna Kea and calling upon the governor to rescind his emergency proclamation.

For more information on OHA’s lawsuit against the state and UH, visit www.oha.org/maunakea.

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