Mauna Kea activists ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’

Published: Nov. 13, 2019 at 9:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the protest at Mauna Kea heads into its fifth month, the encampment has become like a small town including everything from decontamination supplies to county crossing guards. Hawaii News Now got an inside look into a place existing outside the law and prepared for conflict with government authorities.

At Puuhonua O Puuhuluhulu, there’s a tent for the Mauna Medic Healer’s Hui. Kahea Alapai says their job is to protect the protectors with their emotional and physical needs.

"Just hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That's what we are striving for over here. Winter is coming so prepping the kupunas for it," she said.

Inside, there's a make-shift store stocked with sunscreen, over-the-counter health aids, traditional medicines and storage containers.

"This is our decontamination things if there is a front line action. We pray that there won't be. For pepper spray, we have the milk of magnesia," said Alapai.

The Attorney General has said the Thirty Meter Telescope has the legal right to build and has called it a dangerous narrative that law enforcement would intentionally hurt people, but the Mauna Medics point to emotional trauma.

"We've been on edge, PTSD, and being in that state for so long takes a toll on the lahui so that's what activist burnout is," said Alapai.

There’s uncertainty about how all this could end, but Alapai says there is hope and a sense of calm at the camp.

“Definitely good feeling, big ohana. I have so much brothers and sisters now,” she said.

At night, there were two county hired crossing guards stationed at the intersection of Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) and Mauna Kea Access Road. They told Hawaii News Now they work during the day, but stayed overtime since a temporary stop light was malfunctioning.

After dark while our news crew was there, outside temperatures got down to the upper 50′s and a Honolulu couple walked back to their car after spending a day at the mauna for the first time.

“Just amazing. I never did get involved with Hawaiian stuff,” said Walter Kekoa Nihipali, who was with his wife, Bobbi.

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