Hawaii House resolution creates Mauna Kea working group

Mauna Kea (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)
Mauna Kea (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)(Caleb Jones | AP)
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 4:30 AM HST
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HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii House of Representatives on Thursday passed a resolution creating a working group to develop recommendations for new management of the state’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea.

The vote was 45 in favor and five opposed. One member was excused.

Mauna Kea has been the focus of tension for years, particularly as scientists have pursued a plan to build a new telescope at its summit to join nearly a dozen observatories there now.

Native Hawaiian activists who consider the summit to be sacred successfully halted construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope in 2019 by blocking the road to the mountaintop.

The University of Hawaii has managed the summit since the late 1960s under a 65-year lease with the state of Hawaii. Critics say the university has failed to adequately consult Native Hawaiians while managing the site.

The resolution calls for the House speaker to appoint the working group’s chair as well as three members from the House of Representatives and seven Native Hawaiians nominated by indigenous organizations. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the university’s Board of Regents and Mauna Kea Observatories would also each designate one member.

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