Big Island Polls

Big Island Now poll No. 40 results: Vote close between those who agree portions of Maunakea should be be listed as historic places and those who don’t

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Maunakea from Kohala Mountain Road. (File photo from 2019)

A push by two Big Island organizations to designate public lands from 6,500 feet and above on Maunakea, including the summit, as a traditional cultural property on the state and federal registers of historic places got a boost in the middle of last month.

According to a Nov. 17 post on Facebook by Huliauap‘a, the nonprofit organization leading the charge for KAHEA (The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance) and Hawaiian cultural organization Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, when the State Historic Preservation Review Board approved the nomination, adding it to the Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places and forwarding it for consideration to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This is a huge acknowledgement that Maunakea is a sacred cultural landscape that must be recognized in its entirety now,” said the nonprofit’s post.

Big Island Now, in its most recent poll, asked readers what they thought about the plan. The margin between those who agreed it’s a good move and those who didn’t was relatively close.

Out of the total 1,075 votes, 480, or 44%, said yes, of course those lands should be on the historic registers while 454, or 42%, said no, it’s not necessary.


Here are the full results:

  • Yes, of course: 480 (44%)
  • No. It’s not necessary: 454 (42%)
  • It sounds like a good idea, but I’m not sure: 96 (8%)
  • I have a better idea: 23 (2%)
  • I don’t care: 22 (2%)

Total votes: 1,075

There were more than 90 comments across all platforms in response to the poll.

Several commenters expressed concern about loss of public access or the government gaining control of the lands.

Kaui Brown said on Facebook that the move should never happen: “Federal government wants to come into Hawai’i and take away our rights to recreational use on public lands … This is a big no.”


“Whatever protections you think the mountain will get, just know it will be the opposite,” added Ryan Smoot on Facebook. “Granting the government additional rights over land has never worked in the interests of the people.”

William Colt, commenting on Big Island Now, said the move is just an attempt to control the lands on the part of a few: “Let public lands be used by the public.”

“Absolutely do not relinquish local control to the feds or any outsiders,” commented Don Baker on Big Island Now. “The mountain belongs to us and should be shared by everyone. If any changes need to be done in the future, let Big Islanders decide.

Others wondered why it was just the public lands from 6,500 feet and above that were nominated: “That seems a pretty selective designation that chooses to ignore significance of many more areas below the 6,500-foot level,” commented Andrea Wagner on Facebook.

Logand.brown on Instagram said no to the poll question because the whole island is sacred.


“All lands should go back to the Hawaiians. Enough said,” said Kai Nakooka on Facebook.

The presence of observatories and construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the mountain also came into the conversation among those commenting.

“Sounds like a good plan,” said Carlton Arr on Facebook. “No more new telescope construction. Decommissioned telescopes should be broken down or repurposed/used.”

Several others were advocates for the astronomy sector’s presence on Maunakea.

“I voted no because I’m concerned this is another divisive publicity stunt by radical Native Hawaiian activists who are trying to disrupt the telescope activity,” commented Bett Bidleman on Big Island Now.

Another commenter on Big Island Now agreed, saying the nomination is just another attempt to block the TMT project. Hawaiiskies1 said on Instagram that they would support the nomination as long as the existing observatories and any future telescopes aren’t impacted.

Karen Kane said on Facebook the mauna “was never considered sacred before the TMT riot.”

“My daughter’s were in hula from small … all sacred ceremonies were for Pele. Hawaiians forget?” she said. “That canoes always use stars for navigation. Create a cultural learning center to educate how the observations are supporting the culture. Locals can learn, too. Cooperation is key to cultural evolvement.”

One commenter on Big Island Now said there’s plenty of room for science, business and culture — “ALL culture, not just the self-appointed and entitled few.”

Another reader commented that of course any construction on the mountain should be done carefully, but the summit should continue to be used to study the stars: “That is traditional and how Pacific Islanders have always navigated, and everything else should be protected.”

Editor’s note: Big Island Now planned to publish a story last week with additional information about where the nominations are now, the next steps and what it would mean for the lands, including who would have jurisdiction; however, information could not be gathered in time for publication. Watch for a follow-up story Dec. 20.

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