HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thirty Meter Telescope supporters gathered at the state Capitol on Friday to argue that culture and science can coexist on Mauna Kea.
The open forum also attracted many against the telescope.
It got heated at times — and left many wondering if there’s an end in sight to the standoff.
“We’re just tearing each other down. As much as the lahui is building within our own communities, people are being torn apart,” said Native Hawaiian astrophysics student Makana Silva.
Along with Silva, the panel consisted of lawyer Sam King, the first director of the Office of Mauna Kea Management and former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Judge Walter Heen, and Wally Ishibashi, a senior cultural advisor for the Office of Mauna Kea Management.
Organizers say both King and Makana camped out on Mauna Kea and spoke with leaders there.
“TMT did really a good faith effort out there throughout the years being involved in the project since 2003," said Ishibashi. "There were numerous numerous meetings. Was it enough? I don’t know, maybe not. Maybe the wrong group was being talked to. That’s what we’re finding out now.”
The panelists said voices of TMT supporters haven’t been heard enough.
“I agree that the mountain is very important to our genealogy, to our background, to our history. But I also believe that Hawaiians believe in sharing. And they’ve been sharing and sharing and sharing. Perhaps too much, perhaps not. But I do believe in the telescope, I do believe that it is an advancement in knowledge that Hawaii can be proud of and Hawaiians can benefit from,” said Heen.
The price tag to taxpayers for the response to the TMT protest is $8 million and growing — and many says it’s not fair.
There was an even mix of TMT supporters and opponents in the audience.
Kumu Hinaleimona Wong-Kalu, who is against the construction of the telescope on Mauna Kea, said she didn’t come to be heard. She came to listen.
“Those of us on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Molokai, we unite and we will be in the movement tomorrow. We will be moving and marching the road and we will express ourselves and we will demonstrate the fortitude of a lahui that has risen,” she said.
More than 10,000 people are expected to come out on Saturday on several islands for what’s called the Aloha Aina March, expressing opposition to the TMT.