Big Island Polls

Big Island Now poll No. 22: Do you think the Thirty Meter Telescope should be built on Maunakea?

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The fight about whether the Thirty Meter Telescope should be built on the Big Island’s Maunakea, Hawai‘i’s tallest volcanic mountain that is prime for astronomy research and also considered sacred by many Native Hawaiians, seems far from finished.

A rendering of the Thirty Meter Telescope. (File image courtesy of Thirty Meter Telescope)

In the latest development, the Maunakea Hui — which stands in opposition to construction of the more than $2 billion TMT International Observatory that would house one of the world’s largest land-based telescopes — is challenging an extension granted by the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources for the telescope’s conservation district use permit.

The state Land Board was supposed to hear oral arguments in that challenge July 28, but instead deferred the matter. No new date has been set.

The project has languished for years as it has faced court challenges and been stalled by opponents who maintain the telescope will desecrate sacred land.


The Board of Land and Natural Resources gave its approval to the TMT project, but the Hawai‘i Supreme Court invalidated the telescope’s building permits in December 2015, ruling that the land board had not followed due process. In October 2018, the high court approved construction to resume, but continued protests stymied construction progress.

Demonstrators, who call themselves kia‘i, or protectors, for several months in 2019 blocked access to the mountain’s summit and stopped construction from moving forward. The demonstrators only moved off from blocking the Maunakea Access Road in December of that year after agreeing to terms set forth in a truce worked out with then-Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim.

Before that, other attempts to build the Thirty Meter Telescope were blocked beginning in 2014.


TMT also identified a second preferred building site on the island of La Palma, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain, as a “Plan B.”

With the future of the project still unknown, we want to know where you stand.

Press Here to Take the Poll


Tell us here or on social media why you voted the way you did — or if your answer is not on our list, let us know what it is and explain. Voting ends at midnight on Aug. 4. Results will be posted Aug. 6.

You can find the results from last week’s poll that asked “What should be included in revitalization plans for Hilo’s iconic Banyan Drive?” by clicking here.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at
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