Native Hawaiian cultural access to Mauna Kea limited

Native Hawaiian cultural access to Mauna Kea limited
Native Hawaiian cultural access to Mauna Kea limited
Native Hawaiian cultural access to Mauna Kea limited

MAUNA KEA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Board of Land and Natural Resources confirms an emergency ruling is scheduled for Friday to adopt new restrictions regulating use
within a one-mile area of the Mauna Kea access road.
A draft of the new rules under consideration "To Protect Against Imminent Peril To Public Safety and Natural Resources", according to the state, includes restricting access between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. and prohibiting backpacks, tents or blankets.
The land board will meet July 10, 2015 at 9 a.m. at the Kalanimoku Building (1151 Punchbowl Street) in the Land Board Conference Room
Eleven days after Thirty Meter Telescope protesters forced construction crews to turn around by moving rocks onto the Mauna Kea summit
road, the roadway remains closed.
Protesters, who call themselves Protectors, cleared the rocks and boulders the following day, and a grader has been up the mountain at least three times since then -- but officials maintain road conditions are too hazardous to re-open to the public.
Cultural practitoners have been allowed access with a ranger escort for several days, but as of Friday, the Office of Mauna Kea Management began limiting that to about ten people once a day at 1 p.m. so long as personnel is available.

 "We appreciate the rangers doing what they can but the state and UH and OMKM have to do a better job of gauranteeing those rights. You can't say there's only enough funds for one 1 o'clock show to see Akua (God). Especially while all day long telescope workers are going up and down the mountain without any escort and without any concern for public health and safety," Lakea Trask, an Aloha 'Aina advocate.

State officials say the arrangement was approved by protesters more than a week ago, but Aloha 'Aina leadership says that's a miscategorization
of a discussion they had with one ranger and DLNR agent to schedule access for a small group wishing to pray at an 'ahu or altar that has been erected on the mountain.
Native Hawaiians who wish to access the mountain for religious and cultural practices say their rights are being trampled.
"The legislature notes that the University must accommodate Hawaiian rights contained in Article 12, Section 7 of the Constitution. What we have here is a flagrant, flagrant and ongoing violations of Hawaiian cultural rights that are consitutionally protected and considered international human rights that are continuously being ignored by the state," said Miliani Trask, a United Nations human rights expert.
State officials cite the Office of Mauna Kea Management's Comprehensive Plan, which says: "The exercise of Native Hawaiian cultural practices
is a legally and constitutionally protected right and UH will safely accommodate individuals and groups wishing to exercise such traditional practices or customs, subject to the reasonable regulation of such rights as permitted by law."  It goes on to clarify that reasonable regulation includes public safety.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Rowena Akana says some kind of compromise needs to be reached immediately.
"It is a right that they should be afforded, no question about that. There is law and precedent that allows for this. The key is going to be working out a fair and dignified plan so that people are not groveling," said Akana.
According to UH officials, they got a heads-up over the weekend at least 24 people wanted to go up the mountain for a ceremony.  They say they worked with DLNR to manage the road block to escort the larger group without incident.

 State officials say while the summit road is only open to authorized vehicles, the public can still access the summit by using the hiking trail.

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