Young Hawaiians learn about protection of Mauna Kea ahead of conflict

Thirty Meter Telescope prepares for construction next week

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At the base of Mauna Kea, Pua Case of Mauna Kea Ohana chants with strength in her voice 'Ku Kiai Mauna' and then students reply with 'Ku.'

"Ku Kiai Mauna is for me a rallying call. It is the call to remind myself how to stand on a sacred mountain," she said.

Hawaiian immersion students recently gathered from across the state to learn about Mauna Kea.

On this cold day, they stood in solidarity with their view of Mauna Kea to protect the mountain they consider sacred.

Some of these students have only learned about the conflict over Mauna Kea through social media. On this day, they experienced its power first hand.

"There's many piko in Hawaii. I think Mauna Kea is an important one especially for this generation," said Trevor Atkins who helped organize the students' trip.

On the summit of Mauna Kea, there's a trail that leads up to an ahu (Hawaiian alter) that was built. That's the true summit of Mauna Kea at nearly 14,000.

The construction site for the Thirty Meter Telescope sits below a group of 13 telescopes.

"When I'm standing in areas that are still pristine that are threatened to become that, it pains me," said Case.

It's been a decade of court hearings and meetings for Case, but she says she feels renewed by the younger generation to stand tall for the mountain.

“It made me weep today, happy, overjoyed, full of hope and made me more ready than ever to stand to do what I have to do to stand for a mountain that is still sacred,” said Case.

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