(BIVN) – A building that has been erected near Puʻuhuluhulu – said to be a “library and learning center” by those who are constructing it – has gotten the attention of state and county government.
The structure, built during the ongoing standoff over the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, stands out from the other tents that populate the encampment at the Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu and the base of the Mauna Kea Access Road.
On September 3, Mayor Harry Kim sent a letter to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands chair concerning the “structure near Kipuka Puʻu Huluhulu.” He wrote:
Dear Interim Chairman Aila,
I am writing in regard to reports of a structure being built near Kipuka Puʻu Huluhulu. The structure appears to be located on Hawaiian home lands. A review of County records indicates no permits or approvals were issued.
Pursuant to the Memorandum of Agreement Between the County of Hawaii and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands executed in 2002, page 2, Section III.D:
All normal land use controls will be applied by Hawaii County to DHHL property according to the zoning district selected by DHHL. Except as specifically provided in the Agreement, DHHL will follow all normal land use procedures, regulations, and standards applicable to the zoning district.
Page 2, Section III.H. states:
The County will advise DHHL of all violations by its lessees. The County will enforce land use codes and regulation on Hawaiian Home lands in the same manner as with other landowners. DHHL will cooperate with the County in enforcing the terms of its leases requiring conformity to applicable laws and regulations, if requested by the County. Ongoing violations and failure to comply will be referred to DHHL after the County has exhausted all remedies short of pursuing legal action to address the violation. DHHL may institute lease enforcement proceedings in advance of, or in lieu of, County enforcement actions.
By this letter, I am requesting that DHHL immediately investigate the reports of a structure being built near Kipuka Puʻu Huluhulu and to take necessary and appropriate action.
The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands issued a media release later the same day. Chair William Aila stated:
“Law enforcement has notified protectors at Puʻu Huluhulu that the structure near Kipuka Puʻu Huluhulu is unpermitted. Unauthorized structures on all DHHL lands statewide are addressed in a consistent manner. Following a posted Noticed To Vacate, DHHL will remove the structure as soon as resources become available. Abandoned or seized property is then held pursuant to section 171-31.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes. DHHL continues to prioritize the safety of all beneficiaries and the protection of the trust.”
Social media posts, and those who are building the structure, say the new building is a library.
“It’s kind of a safe spot for the keiki for research, do homework,” Kevin Kahikina told Hawaii News Now. “A quiet place for them out of the town that they have here for them.”
But the organizers of the Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu are distancing themselves from the building. In a Tuesday evening statement, the Puʻuhonua stated:
On July 13, 2019, the Royal Order of Kamehameha ‘Ekahi, in collaboration with, and in support of kia‘i, established Pu‘uhonua o Pu‘uhuluhulu as a refuge intended to ensure the safety of all people gathering to protect Maunakea from further desecration and destruction by the building of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope. While we remain steadfast in our commitment for the Pu‘uhonua to be a safe haven for our people until we are sure our mauna is protected, we have no intention of establishing a permanent village within this refuge.
In response to questions about what appears to be a structures being built within the Pu‘uhonua, the Royal Order of Kamehameha ‘Ekahi and Pu‘uhonua o Pu‘uhuluhulu reiterate that our focus within the Pu‘uhonua remains on providing a safe haven for kia‘i engaged in protecting Maunakea as we have for the past 53 days. We have informed the individuals building the structure that neither the Royal Order of Kamehameha nor Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu endorse or sanction the construction of immobile structures. We remain committed to maintaining only a temporary presence and a light footprint within the boundaries of the Puʻuhonua.
Finally, we reaffirm our commitment to Kapu Aloha and all who remain in the Pu‘uhonua hold each other to this principle. It is our hope that all will reach a swift agreement that the TMT project has no place on Maunakea.
It has been 51 days since the scheduled start of construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.