(BIVN) – “Did a University of Hawaii employee bulldoze an ʻahu on the summit of Mauna Kea in the summer of 2015?” demanded State Senator Kai Kahele during a hearing on Monday.
Sen. Kahele, chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, questioned testifiers who came to the Capitol auditorium podium to voice their concerns with SB 3090, proposing to establish a new Mauna Kea Management Authority.
Kahele’s inquisition of the Office of Mauna Kea Management director Stephanie Nagata was particularly tense. The questions centered around an ʻahu – built on the mountain during the tumult of 2015 and named ʻahu Ka Uakoko – that was later destroyed by a Mauna Kea Support Services employee.
“No one gave the order to bulldoze,” Nagata told Kahele.
“Are you telling me a University of Hawaii Mauna Kea Support Services employee, on their own, started up a bulldozer and desecrated and destroyed an ʻahu that was built on Mauna Kea?” Kahele fired back.
“It was in an area that is actively used for the storage of materials that are used to maintain the road and the ʻahu happened to be in the way of the bulldozer to access the materials,” Nagata explained.
“Was there an investigation done? Was the individual held accountable? Does the individual still work for the University of Hawaii?” Kahele asked.
After Nagata told Kahele that the individual had been counseled, but she could not say more about the matter, Kahele continued with his line of questioning. She also told Kahele that the Mauna Kea Support Services employee does not report to OMKM, but rather to the Institute For Astronomy.
“You know, the longer we go without administrative rules, the worse this gets,” Kahele concluded. “If anything (this) is administrative neglect on behalf of the University of Hawaii, the Institute For Astronomy, Mauna Kea Support Services. That’s why we have this untenable pressure and tension on the mountain right now. And if you actually treated Native Hawaiians and those cultural practitioners with respect we wouldn’t be in this situation today.”
“You should have met them halfway,” Kahele told Nagata. “They were crying out for help and guidance and you gave them none of it. And when they built an ʻahu, you bulldozed it. And in my opinion violated state law. At least you should have called OHA. So that’s where the desecration is.”
“Since the 2009 (Comprehensive Management Plan) was enacted and here we are – it’s 2018 – we have no admin rules,” the Hilo senator declared. “And we’re about to take those admin rules all into community, the very community that is blocking any astronomy on Mauna Kea, and ask them can we get your public opinion on this? And then the next night ask them hey we’d also like to get comments on an EIS so we can get a master lease? How do you think that’s gonna go? It’s making the situation worse. Thats what you don’t understand.”
The joint senate committee deferred the measure until Feb 14 meeting in conference room 224.
SB3090 – RELATING TO GOVERNMENT
Establishes the Mauna Kea Management Authority. Limits the number of telescopes that may be authorized on Mauna Kea. Authorizes the renegotiation of leases, subleases, easements, permits, and licenses pertaining to Mauna Kea. Requires that revenue derived from activities on Mauna Kea be shared with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Provides that the Mauna Kea Management Authority may not alienate lands except as provided by law. Excludes Mauna Kea lands from the definition of “public lands.” Provides for free access to Mauna Kea for traditional cultural purposes. Establishes police powers and provides for enforcement of laws on land under the jurisdiction of the Mauna Kea Management Authority. (Proposed SD1)
Introducer(s): DELA CRUZ, ENGLISH, ESPERO, GALUTERIA, HARIMOTO, INOUYE, K. KAHELE, KEITH-AGARAN, KIDANI, KIM, NISHIHARA, SHIMABUKURO, WAKAI, S. Chang, K. Rhoads, Riviere, Taniguchi