HILO – The Mauna Kea Hui of protectors and their supporters made their presence known in Hilo on Saturday, as hundreds marched under the Aloha ‘Aina banner during the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade. Chants of Ku Kia’i Mauna rang out as the participants marched down Pauahi Street.
There were some restrictions placed on the unit: no upside down flags, for example, and no chants mentioning the Thirty Meter Telescope would be allowed. Many of the marchers are the same who stand against the construction of the $1.4 billion TMT observatory on Mauna Kea. Following the arrest of 31 people on April 2, the effort to stop the project from going forward gained global support.
The marchers weren’t the only ones to carry the We Are Mauna Kea message. As marcher Jim Albertini noted in a message emailed after the parade:
… many people lining the parade route had their own signs for Mauna Kea and against the TMT (Thirty Meter telescope). What I found to be very moving was the look in peoples eyes as they saw such a large contingent in the parade for Aloha ‘Aina. People’s joy, sense of pride, and hope was very heartening. Clearly a strong movement for aloha ‘aina has been born and is growing rapidly. The activities on all the islands and around the world for Mauna Kea is strong testimony of this movement.”Jim Albertini
At roughly the same time that the parade began, Governor David Ige announced that TMT would once again postpone construction, this time until April 20th.
The same group marched in last year’s Merrie Monarch parade, although their numbers were smaller. In addition to their opposition to the development of the sacred Mauna Kea, the group also stands opposed to the military presence at Pohakuloa.