(BIVN) – Mayor Harry Kim made a surprise visit to Puʻu Huluhulu on Sunday, where he told the Thirty Meter Telescope opponents who have established a puʻuhonua at the location that he supports what they have done.
“I think its a very appropriate place, here,” Kim said, noting that they informed him of their efforts in advance. “They’ve been more than good at keeping their promises that safety is first for everybody. And I admire them for it, I respect them for it, and I surely do appreciate them for that.”
The Mauna Kea kiaʻi have established the puʻuhonua, or “safe sanctuary”, at the base of the Mauna Kea Access Road, which – in less than 24 hours – will be closed to facilitate the construction of the TMT, set to begin on Monday, July 15.
A large crowd had gathered at Puʻu Huuhulu on Sunday, participating in a gathering of cultural practitioners from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. “for a vigil to cleanse, clear, and protect Mauna a Wākea,” according to a media release from the Lālākea Foundation. Protocols were being conducted hourly, on the hour.
When Mayor Kim arrived, he spoke with the kiaʻi and was even led to the ʻahu fronting the Saddle Road. Kim supports the Thirty Meter Telescope project, and is assisting the state to ensure the construction of the observatory on Mauna Kea is carried out safely and successfully.
Just before the mayor arrived, the various groups gathered at the site issued a statement of unity, on the heels of “reports that the State of Hawaiʻi plans to sweep the Puʻuhonua late Sunday night”, the HULI organization said in a media release, which they say “has prompted Hawaiian groups to stand as a lāhui to affirm the establishment of the puʻuhonua and protect their right to seek refuge there.”
When asked if the mayor made any assurances to the kiaʻi about what might happen next, the mayor said they would be allowed to carry on their vigil.
“He affirmed several times, that he was not going to have his police kick us out of here, or arrest us, or harass us in any way,” said HULI member Andre Perez.
“They need a place, now we need to see if we can minimize any parking problems,” Kim said, as he glanced around at the many cars parked along the side of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.
“We shouldn’t block the main highway,” Kim added, “and they agreed to that. And they’re working with us all the way through.”
The joint statement, issued before the mayor’s visit, was credited to The Royal Order of Kamehameha I, HULI, Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge-UHMānoa, Hui Aloha ʻĀina, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Mauna Kea Hui and Nā Wahine ʻĀpapalani. It read:
Through the Aliʻi authority of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, and with the support of the kia‘i of Maunakea, Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu was formally consecrated. Alika Desha, Kālaimoku of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I said, “In fulfillment of our kuleana, we are committed to upholding the sanctity and safe haven of this space for our akua, our ‘āina and our people.”
Leilani Lindsey, Pelekikena of the Hui Aloha ‘Āina, who participated in yesterday’s ceremony, stated that “Puʻuhuluhulu has been recognized as a Puʻuhonua for generations and that has been reaffirmed by the Royal Order of Kamehameha I. We will stand here together in the spirit of our kūpuna and in deep aloha for our ʻāina.”
John Osorio, Dean of Hawaiʻinuiākea said, “We are a living people with a living culture. Any attempt to intrude on this Pu‘uhonua is a direct attempt to erase our people and culture and divides all Hawaiians.”
Ku Ching, member of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, stated, “We are doing a religious thing that is constitutionally protected. We are having an indefinite religious retreat.” Kealoha Pisciotta of the same organization responded that “This is further evidence that of state violence hostility and disrespect for our aloha and our religious freedom.”
In the wisdom of Liko Martin and Aunty Pilahi Paki, Hawai‘i loa, kū like kākou. All Hawai‘i stands together!