Native Hawaiian leaders call for moratorium - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Native Hawaiian leaders call for moratorium

Courtesy: Ehitu Keeling Courtesy: Ehitu Keeling
MAUNA KEA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Native Hawaiian leaders are calling on Governor David Ige and University of Hawaii President David Lassner to establish a 30-day moratorium on construction for the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope. 

No work took place on Friday, a day after authorities arrested 31 people for allegedly trespassing at the work site or blocking construction crews heading to the summit.

"For the first week, they were acting and we were having to react to them. Now it seems like they're reacting to us and it's putting them in an uncomfortable position," said activist Kahookahi Kanuha.

"To many it is a sacred and religious place. It's a temple. It is also a place where some of our ancestors lay at rest," said cultural practitioner Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Peter Apo's view is that Gov. Ige and Lassner should halt construction on the $1.4 billion telescope for 30 days. During that time, he wants them to create a group to revisit the entire management plan of public trust lands on Mauna Kea.

"The arrests that are being made is really, in my opinion, a stunning error in judgment and kind of an in your face provocation to Native Hawaiians that a construction schedule is more important than people," said Apo.

"We are aware of this situation and are deeply involved in discussions and conversations about this important matter," said Mike McCartney, the governor's chief of staff.

"UH welcomes all calls for more dialogue and is actively meeting and addressing the issue at the highest levels," said UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.

The project's contractor, TMT Observatory Corporation, pointed out that it obtained the necessary permits through a 7 year public process. The company is assessing its construction schedule on a day-to-day basis.

Walter Ritte said he is disappointed with the dialogue and now wants all 13 telescopes removed from Mauna Kea.

"The goal now is not to stop the building of this observatory. The goal now is to get all of these observatories off this mountain. They have crossed the line and they have really angered the Hawaiian community," said Ritte.

Related link:

Protesters blocking road to giant telescope site at Mauna Kea arrested 

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