Thousands on Oahu rally against Thirty Meter Telescope; astronomer says benefits of TMT are unlimited

Updated: Apr. 12, 2015 at 6:57 PM HST
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Walter Ritte, Hawaiian activist
Walter Ritte, Hawaiian activist

MAUNA KEA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of people flooded Iolani Palace on Sunday to show their opposition of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea.

Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte says about 3,500 people showed up for the seven-hour long event.

"This is the time for Oahu to come and show their support, to become part of the voice that is going to protect Mauna Kea and that's going to build our nation again," Ritte said.

Dozens of local entertainers volunteered their time and talents to put on a free concert for the community and “Ku Kiai Mauna” or "guardians of the mountain" t-shirts were sold.

"It's gonna be used for legal costs. A lot of people are willing to get arrested. It's gonna be used for food, trying to get those people warm on the mountain. Some people that can't afford to go there, we're gonna try to get them there," said Ritte.

Doug Simons, Executive Director for the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope which is already on Mauna Kea, says the TMT's benefits spread much farther than just knowledge.

"When they're operational, there's about a million dollars a year that they can provide to Mauna Kea infrastructure, 20-percent of that goes to OHA, and that's an incredible and invaluable contribution because that money will go back into sustaining the mountain," Simons said.

Simons says it's a good thing that there are limitations because it forces nothing but the best telescopes and the best science on the mountain that so many deem sacred. He hopes there will be a conclusion that everyone can be happy with.

"When they look back and they think about Hawaii, the first thing that they will think about is the fantastic discoveries, the paradigm shifts in our understanding of who and what we are that all were traceable back to a handful of telescopes on a sacred site in the middle of the ocean," said Simons.

Construction for the TMT has been postponed until Monday, April 20th, 2015.

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