Kia‘i to Move off Road, Remain on Maunakea: VIDEODecember 26, 2019, 5:54 PM HST (Updated December 26, 2019, 5:54 PM)
Kia‘i, or the self-dubbed protectors of Maunakea, on Thursday responded to an offer from Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim proposing both sides of the Thirty Meter Telescope dispute stand down through the end of February.
Protectors accepted Kim’s terms, which don’t include demonstrators leaving the mountain, only that they move their camp to the roadside in order to return public access to Maunakea. The demonstration began on July 15, 2019. The access road is expected to reopen Dec. 28.
Mayor Kim offered personal assurances that there would be no attempts to begin construction on Maunakea by TMT, and that neither State nor County law enforcement would interfere with protectors who remain on the mountain.
According to a Thursday Facebook post on Pu’uhonua o Pu’uhuluhulu Maunakea, an official social media page of the Kia‘i, protectors agreed to the mayor’s terms “for safety reasons.” However, the post continued to say that the group would “not leave Maunakea until the TMT leaves Hawai‘i.”
TMT has said confirmed it doesn’t plan to immediately move forward with construction, but instead intends to engage directly with Native Hawaiian elements who oppose it. The organization was also critical of State and County government, saying both had proven unable of providing “safe and secure access” to the mountain.
Gov. David Ige cited TMT’s position as reason for his decision last week to remove all State law enforcement from Maunakea indefinitely.
The following is the full post from the protectors, made at 5:14 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019:
“Today, we received written assurances from Mayor Harry Kim that construction of the TMT will not proceed until the end of February at the earliest and that law enforcement will stand down for the duration of that time. In response to the mayor’s commitment, the kūpuna will open the road for safety reasons. They will remain in place alongside Maunakea Access Road with the full support of the Pu‘uhonua and will be prepared to respond to any threat of construction by TMT in the future.
We’d like to thank the hundreds of kia‘i who responded to the Hawai‘i island kāhea today and were on hand to hear from the kūpuna directly. We would like to remind everyone to remain vigilant and steadfast, as Aunty Noe Noe reminded us today, ‘if there are any signs of construction, we’ll be right back in the middle of the road.’
We are committed and we will not leave Maunakea until the TMT leaves Hawai‘i.”