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House-appointed working group to explore future of Mauna Kea management

Astronomy technicians describe complicated process to get access to Mauna Kea's summit.
Astronomy technicians describe complicated process to get access to Mauna Kea's summit.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: May. 10, 2021 at 5:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The future of Mauna Kea is the focus of a new working group recently formed by the state House.

During debate over the Thirty Meter Telescope, the University of Hawaii was heavily criticized for its management of the summit.

House Speaker Scott Saiki said public outrage over UH management could make ongoing astronomy impractical.

“I have made it clear that the university should not pursue the master lease extension. If the university for some reason is awarded the master lease extension, I believe it will lead to the end of the astronomy program on the Big Island,” Saiki said.

On Monday, the House appointed 15 people — seven from Native Hawaiian groups — to make recommendations about changing management of the mountain which kanaka maoli hail as a sacred space.

The chair of the working group supports the telescope.

“The issue here is not necessarily the TMT specifically, but really the treatment of Native Hawaiians and cultural practices on the mountain,” Chairman Mark Nakashima said.

The recommendations of the 15-member work group are due by the end of the year.

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