9-member board proposed to take over management of Mauna Kea summit

A group created in wake of the Thirty Meter Telescope protests is proposing new management for Mauna Kea, but the future of the project still remains unclear.
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 5:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A group created in wake of the Thirty Meter Telescope protests is proposing new management for Mauna Kea in a draft report.

But the future of the project remains unclear.

The Mauna Kea Working Group was formed by the state Legislature.

State Rep. Mark M. Nakashima, chair of Mauna Kea Working Group, says returning Mauna Kea to its natural state is the eventual goal.

In their plan for Mauna Kea, TMT was not even discussed.

“Some of those decisions are not in our control and other entities have come down and decided that we are not the least of which is the Hawaii Supreme Court,” said Nakashima.

Greg Chun, of UH Hilo’s Center for Mauna Kea Stewardship, said it’s “important for the community to remember that astronomy on Mauna Kea is a state policy.”

He added, “Whatever the governance structure ends up being would only be relevant to TMT If there was going to be a reconsideration of astronomy on Mauna Kea and TMT is part of that.”

The working group proposed a nine-member board take over management of the summit.

It would include appointees from the Native Hawaiian community, experts in infrastructure, finance, resource management, business.

The current manager, the University of Hawaii, would not be on the board.

“Moving forward one of the premises of the resolution was that the university failed in some of its duties and responsibilities to a native Hawaiian population,” Nakashima explained.

“So, a lot of these criticisms we have taken to heart,” added Chun. “And we have been addressing them through the work that we’ve been doing with our advisory boards.”

Also excluded from the board is anyone involved in astronomy, which the group says in the report is a conflict of interest since they would be managing observatories.

“One of the alternatives was to have an astrology advisor committee attached to the board in some way to advise the board on astronomy issues and concerns,” Nakashima said.

Chun called that worrisome.

“Every board of the directors has to address conflict of interest all the time,” said Chun. “But to just say that that group shouldn’t have representation, I think it is troublesome.”

The proposal still needs to be approved by the Legislature. The public has until Feb. 4 at 4:30 p.m. to make comments. To submit comments, email maunakeaWG@capitol.hawaii.gov.

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