Mauna Kea defenders ask for OHA support - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mauna Kea defenders ask for OHA support

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Protect Mauna Kea advocates urged trustees with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to join them in opposing.the building of a thirty meter telescope on the mountain's summit. 

"We have risen. We have awakened. We have remembered," Kaleikoa Kaeo said. 

Leaders and supporters of the movement held signs at OHA's board meeting and begged the board to take a stand against the $1.4 billion project they believe will desecrate the mountain they call sacred.

"Either we have a place to decide what is sacred or we don't. It's as simple as the question," Kaeo said. "But if you're going to deny that to our people that's sad."

"You guys have a responsibility to deal with this immediately. It should have been dealt with," said Andre Perez of the Movement for Aloha No ka Aina. 

Discussion of the telescope wasn't on the agenda but even OHA trustees took turns addressing the conflict and whether the board should rescind a 2009 vote supporting the telescope.

"This issue has risen to such a level that we can no longer wait. Our community is demanding action on our part as trustees," Dan Ahuna said.

"It's kind of a moot issue," trustee Rowena Akana countered. "I think our vote would be a symbolic one because it's already happened. But it would be symbolic. It would show our people that we hear. That for me is what is important."

Members of the Movement for Aloha no Ka Aina camped outside OHA's offices Wednesday night and vowed to hold an extended vigil until the board acted to protect Mauna Kea. 

Kahookahi Kanuha said the group had made its point. 

"We want them to address the issue. Simple as that. Address the issue. That's their responsibility," he said. 

The five board members present voted to move up a special meeting from May 7 to April 30 to discuss OHA's position on the telescope issue. 

"It is about more than just a telescope. It's about the entire public land trust," trustee Peter Apo said. "How do you negotiate without a stance," Ahuna said. "That is a recipe for disaster."

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