Cultural Practitioners File Maunakea Petition

September 3, 2019, 5:00 PM HST (Updated September 3, 2019, 4:34 PM)
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Canada-France-Hawaii telescope. PC: University of Hawai‘i

Another petition has been filed with the Land Use Commission regarding development on Mauna Kea.

Hawaiian cultural practitioners Ku‘ulei Higashi Kanahele and Ahiena Kanahele filed a petition with the Land Use Commission challenging the industrial use of Mauna Kea’s summit without obtaining a district boundary amendment, according to a press release from the law office of Bianca Isaki.

Ku‘ulei Kanahele is a student and daughter-in-law of Hawaiian cultural practitioner, Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, who was one of the kupuna arrested in mid-July for obstructing the construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope, the release said. Ahiena is Pualani Kanahele’s son and a former Mauna Kea ranger.

The Kanaheles point to the 13 research facilities and associated subleases on Mauna Kea summit as evidence of industrial uses suited to the state’s “urban” classification and not the conservation district. Research facilities are generally considered industrial uses under the counties zoning laws, the release asserted.

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“Industrial development at the summit of Maunakea desecrates the very nature and essence of my akua,” Ku‘ulei Kanahele wrote. “it destroys the open, unobstructed space of the conservation district.”

The Kanaheles consider this area a wao akua (sacred realm), which is supposed to be free from the encroachments of human activity and construction.

The State Land Use Commission is tasked with districting state lands into conservation, agricultural, rural or urban areas, as well as overseeing district boundary amendment procedures to reclassify state lands into different districts.

The petition states the absence of boundary amendment proceedings for this de facto industrial use precinct on Mauna Kea deprived the Kanaheles of their opportunity to raise and protect their rights.

“We would participate to strongly oppose a proposed boundary amendment to reclassify conservation district lands at the Maunakea summit into the Urban district,” declared the Kanaheles.

The Land Use Commission is required to act on the Kanaheles’ petition within 90 days.

The full petition can be accessed here.

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