MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – Opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea have erected two ahu near the site of the planned observatory over the last two days, just before construction of the $1.4 billion project is expected to resume.
The stone altars carry Hawaiian cultural significance. On Monday, pōhaku from the shores of Kona were driven up the steep mountain road, and then carried by hand.
Mehana Kihoi, one of the Mauna Kea protectors, described the scene.
“The pōhaku were laid in the middle of the road leading to the proposed destruction site–by our mana keiki, mana wahine, and mana kāne. Hand by hand, brought from sea level to 14,000 ft above the clouds. Blessed with hoʻokupu, wai from Lake Waiau, paʻakai from Kauaʻi, and views of Haleakalā. One of the most incredible days I have ever spent, and one of the most beautiful ʻAhu I have ever seen.” – Mehana Kihoi on June 22, 2015
Andrew Cooper, the Darker View astronomy blogger and employee of the W.M. Keck Observatory, was able to watch the building of the ahu using Keck webcams. He wrote about what he saw:
“Obviously they are daring the construction crews to dismantle the structure, then to be able to claim desecration when that happens. Whatever happens our crews will have a first hand view from our site overlooking the TMT site.” – Andrew Cooper on June 22, 2015
On Tuesday, another was installed at the summit area.
On Wednesday, a large turnout is expected in opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope project. Sign wavings are also being promoted across Hawaii.
On Wednesday evening, the Office of Mauna Kea Management will hold an open house in Hilo at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center beginning at 5 p.m. The meeting is “being held to gather community input on suggested administrative rules for the University of Hawaii’s managed lands on Maunakea”.
“These open houses in three locations around the island will allow us to get the community’s thoughts on rules that will help OMKM meet challenges it faces regarding resource protection and public safety. Following the open houses, the Office of Maunakea Management will draft administrative rules for public review and comment before approval by the appropriate agencies. Once approved, the rules will be the enforcement mechanism that protects the cultural, natural and scientific resources, and public health and safety on UH’s managed lands on Maunakea,” – Office of Maunakea Management Director Stephanie Nagata on June 15, 2015.
The first OMKM open house meeting was held on Tuesday night in Kona. A third open house is scheduled for Waimea at Kuhio Hale (DHHL West Hawaii District Office) on Thursday, June 25.
The meetings were announced before TMT made its announcement that construction would resume on Wednesday.