Big Island mayor seeks compromise to break TMT deadlock

Mauna Kea Cultural Museum Controversy
Published: Jun. 29, 2017 at 10:36 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 30, 2017 at 10:06 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island Mayor Harry Kim's plans for a Mauna Kea cultural park is facing strong opposition from Thirty Meter Telescope protesters.

Kim spoke about the plan during an Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board meeting Thursday, saying a Mauna Kea World Park would serve as an international symbol of nations working together.

"I believe that Mauna Kea can be a place of a pursuit of knowledge to make us a better people and better stewards of the land. Mauna Kea can be or should be a monument for the world for peace on earth," Kim said.

But TMT opponents said the complex would be a further desecration of the mountain.

"I don't think we want this. If we want peace we go down the other way," said Kahookahi Kanuha, who was arrested for protesting on Mauna Kea.

Construction on the telescope is currently stalled. A hearings officer will soon issue her recommendations to the land board whether building should continue but further court challenges are likely.

Kim, a strong supporter of the telescope, is hoping a center like this would help break the deadlock.

During his talk at OHA, Kim also blamed the University of Hawaii, which leases and manages the summit for the telescope projects, for much of the snags.

"I told them you are to blame in part for the controversy today on Mauna Kea because of your trashing the mountain," Kim said.

But that didn't satisfy telescope opponents.

"Our Lahui is not going to stand by and let this happen … I'm going to be arrested up there. I know many of the people are going to be arrested," said Makaha activist Kaiulani Milham.

OHA's board took no position on Kim's plan. Two years ago, the agency rescinded its support and took a neutral stance on the project.

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