MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – On Sunday, a group of Aloha Aina advocates ascended to the Mauna Kea Visitor Center cross walk, where they held a short ceremony in commemoration of the first series of arrests that took place on the mountain – one year ago – on April 2, 2015.
“We are still here”, declared Pua Case, one of the Mauna Kea Hui petitioners who took the state and the University of Hawaii all the way to the Hawaii Supreme Court over the TMT project. “And our kupuna are proud of us today!”
“We are changed forever,” Case added.
After posing for pictures, those who were gathered spent time together remembering the pivotal day in the TMT conflict.
After blocking the Mauna Kea Access Road on March 30, 2015 police went to the mountain with a warning: anyone who does not yield the road to construction crews would face arrest. On April 2, 31 people chose to be arrested rather than stand aside. The images that were seen that day galvanized opposition to the planned $1.4 billion observatory. The next day, huge crowds gathered on the mountain in support of the effort to block the road to TMT.
In December 2015, the permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope to build on Mauna Kea was vacated by the Hawaii Supreme Court and remanded back to the Board of Land and Natural Resources. Most of the 31 arrested on the mountain on April 2 have since had their cases dismissed or charges dropped.
Meanwhile, the state is still moving forward with the conservation district use permit application. Last week, it was announced that retired Hawaii Island circuit court judge Riki May Amano has been selected as the hearings officer for the redo of the Thirty Meter Telescope contested case hearing.
TMT is keeping its options open. Recently, the non-profit partnership sent teams to investigate sites in Chile, the Canary islands, and India. TMT is a non-profit partnership of world-class universities including the University of California, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and governmental research institutions representing the partner countries of Canada, China, India and Japan. Additional support also comes from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.