Lawmakers start accepting applications for new authority to manage Mauna Kea

Both sides in the TMT debate say they’re positive about the future.
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 4:12 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 22, 2022 at 5:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawmakers are accepting applications for the Mauna Kea Management Stewardship and Oversight Authority, and both sides in the TMT debate say they’re positive about the future.

Under a new law, the University of Hawaii will no longer be managing Mauna Kea.

Instead, it will be a governor-appointed authority with 11 voting member.

The list includes members from the DLNR, UH, the Hawaiian community, and the observatories.

The bill declares astronomy as a state policy that would help create jobs in Hawaii.

“I’m pleasantly surprised that the governor has made the announcement to open up the nominations,” said Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, a Native Hawaiian rights activist and cultural practitioner.

She was part of a Mauna Kea working group that came up with provisions of the bill.

She plans to apply to be part of the authority and hopes others who are passionate will apply as well.

“I think for the first time in the last 50 years of management for Mauna Kea that the community and cultural practitioners actually do have seats at the decision-making table,” Wong-Wilson said.

“And that is really a big change in the way the mountain should be managed.”

Advocates for astronomy and the TMT said they are also happy with the background requirements for authority’s membership.

“We’re always going to have disagreements, and we don’t want to have fights over it,” said Sam King, executive director of Imua TMT, an organization advocating for access to the mountain and its facilities.

“Nobody wants anybody to get hurt,” King said. “And so let’s have a conversation. We’ve decided as a community that this new authority is what we’re going to try and do. Let’s try it out.”

State House Speaker Scott Saiki will be submitting three names to the governor for one of the positions.

“I want to nominate someone who is Native Hawaiian, and someone who has a broad perspective of Mauna Kea, from all sides, the cultural environmental aspects of Mauna Kea,” Saiki said.

He said the success of the authority will depend on whether the governor assembled a good group.

Advocates of the authority said their main concern is the one-week application period, which ends Thursday.

State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim said in a statement that with the National Science Foundation launching a full environmental review of the TMT project, there is an urgent need to assemble the authority quickly.

For details on how to apply for the authority, click here.

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