OHA committee pledges 'aggressive position' on Mauna Kea management

OHA committee pledges 'aggressive position' on Mauna Kea management

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Office of Hawaiian Affairs' board of trustees is pledging to take an aggressive position aimed at holding the University of Hawaii accountable for its "long mismanagement" of Mauna Kea.

OHA trustee Dan Ahuna announced the decision earlier this week, and told Hawaii News Now Friday why he believes the issue will likely end up in the courts.

"At some point, you have to stand up to what is right and basically that is what I think we are trying to do," Ahuna said. "For the Office of Hawaiian Affairs we advocate for the protection of our cultural and natural resources. So the people come to us when they need help when they are getting arrested and they feel that no one else is listening to them. How can we turn our back?"

OHA formed its ad hoc committee on Mauna Kea in 2015 and entered into negotiations with the state and UH to address alleged mismanagement and a proposal transferring management of the mountain.

OHA gave a formal notice in May 2016 that a lawsuit would be filed in less than 60 days, but the deadline passed. OHA renewed its threat this week.

The aggressive stance comes as the state Land Board is poised to take up a permit request for the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope.

OHA beneficiary Germaine Meyers said she supports OHA's decision to go to court, but she wants more information.

But not all trustees think OHA should enter into litigation.

"I hope that more will be done to reach an agreement between parties without litigation," said OHA trustee Kelii Akina.

"According to a recent Ward scientific poll, a majority of all people in Hawaii, and especially those on the Big Island, believe that Hawaiian culture and science can coexist on Mauna Kea. It is important to work for this peaceful coexistence."

The governor, state attorney general and the University of Hawaii said they would not comment on pending litigation. U.H. spokesman, Dan Meizenzahl, added the university has many examples of proper environmental and cultural management at Mauna Kea.

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