TMT supporters question sacredness of Mauna Kea, opponents disagree

TMT panel at the State Capitol shows why both sides are still far apart on the issue.

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A panel organized by Thirty Meter Telescope supporters at the state Capitol today argued that Mauna Kea is not sacred. But TMT opponents sharply disagree.

The panel included several Hawaiian TMT supporters: former state lawmaker and Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Peter Apo, attorney and cultural practitioner Kimo Stone and Hawaiian navigator Kalepa Baybayan.

TMT opponents were not on the panel.

“I chose not to characterize Mauna Kea as sacred. Instead, I chose to characterize Mauna Kea as being a spiritual environment," said Baybayan.

But TMT opponents believe Mauna Kea -- which figures prominently in the creation myths of Hawaiians -- is sacred and that building the TMT will desecrate it.

“If TMT were to ever succeed in going up the mountain then it’s guaranteed that by their construction plan that they will desecrate the north face of the Mauna and that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” said TMT opponent Noe Noe Wong-Wilson.

This disagreement -- even among Hawaiians on what’s sacred -- indicates that a resolution or a compromise to the 126-day-old stalemate is far off.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.