(BIVN) – The Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu, a “safe sanctuary” established at the base of Mauna Kea a few days before the scheduled start of construction on the Thirty Meter Telescope, was discussed at the State Capitol on Wednesday.
When the puʻuhonua was established, TMT opponents wrote in a media release:
Puʻu Huluhulu is on Hawaiian Homes Trust Lands and is home to an ahu or alter that was erected in 1999 by the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, a royal society established over 150 years ago by Kamehameha V. This ahu, that sits right at the base of the mauna, was built as a safe place so that kupuna or elders who could not make the trek up to the summit but wanted to acknowledge the mauna in their own way in a sacred space could do so. Puʻu Huluhulu therefore makes for a very relevant and appropriate space for this puʻuhonua and this was at the core of the collaborative efforts that took place today between the kiaʻi and members of the Royal Order.
“Have you as the chair – or the Commission,” asked Hilo State Senator Kai Kahele during the Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs informational briefing, “been asked, or requested, or have you even entertained issuing an organization there – whether it’s the Royal Order of Kamehameha, or the Puʻuhuluhulu organization – a limited right of entry?”
“We have not been asked,” answered DHHL chair William Aila. “The Commission has not taken this up as an issue. Individual commissioners have their own ideas about it.”
“What would it take for that to happen?” Kahele asked.
“It would take somebody applying,” Aila responded. “I would have concerns about control of Puʻuhuluhulu right now. Just yesterday afternoon, I had a call from the Royal Order in which they’re asking us to intervene with an individual who’s building an illegal structure… The Royal Order, who created the puʻuhonua, and is tasked with enforcing it, is now asking for the department to come in and assist in the removal of this individual and that structure. My response to them was – I have to be very careful that I don’t put the Commission and the trust in a form of liability with selective enforcement. So, the answer to your question is yes, anybody can apply. We would have to consider all of the facts that are that are in front of us.”
“I have went up there, as you have several times as well,” Kahele said, “and have encouraged the organizations that are there – whoever they are, that decides to move forward – to apply to the [Hawaiian Homes] Commission for a limited right of entry that gives them the legal access an opportunity to be there.”
“And, frankly, I think we’re in for the long haul on this,” Kahele added, “and so I would encourage them to do that.”
“So we would take the application,” Aila stated. “We would measure it against the island plan and the regional plans for that area. And, you know, it will be up to the Commission.”
Big Island Video News will be posting more from this discussion as it relates to other aspects of the situation on Mauna Kea.