(BIVN) – Kahoʻokahi Kanuha, one of the leaders in the Kū Kiaʻi Mauna movement, testified during the Office of Hawaiian Affairs meeting in Hilo on Thursday, urging the Board of Trustees to reconsider their neutral position on the Thirty Meter Telescope project.
“I humbly request that we take this position back up to a vote, that will be allowed to relook at this situation,” Kanuha said.
OHA has no say over whether or not the project can proceed. TMT already has all the necessary permits from the state. The OHA vote would be merely be a position statement. That statement, however – whether for or against the project – is important to beneficiaries.
“What I believe is obvious, is our people have awoken, have rised up, have taken a stand like we’ve never seen before.,” Kanuha said, talking about the encampment at the base of the Mauna Kea Access Road and at the Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu. “Just like this movement will go down in history, you will go down in history too, and you’ll go down in history as someone, even if it wasn’t popular, that stood with our people and stood for our ‘āina.”
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, at one time, supported the Thirty Meter Telescope project. However, the board changed its position to “neutral” in 2015 when the direct action opposed to the observatory began to occur on the mountain.
Kanuha also thanked the OHA board for its support of those making a stand against TMT at the base of Mauna Kea.
In July, the OHA trustees passed a resolution authorizing the OHA administration “to advocate for the rights, safety and well-being of Native Hawaiian protectors and provide related-assistance as appropriate.”
The Hawaiʻi Office of the Attorney General would like to know the specifics, and has issued a subpoena seeking details on the resources that OHA has provided the TMT opponents, the Star-Advertiser reported. So far, OHA has declined to provide such details.
”I know that OHA has played a tremendous role in attempting to hold the State, the DLNR, and UH accountable for the fifty plus years of mismanagement on Mauna Kea,” Kanuha said. “And the truth of the matter is, that all of us can agree, that the TMT and the building of that telescope is by no means, disassociated from the historical mismanagement of Mauna Kea, its just not historical, it’s current. It feeds into, it continues that mismanagement.”
“When it’s all said and done, this is going to be a time that will not be forgotten,” Kanuha said. “It’s going to be just like 1893. It’s going to be just like Kaho’olawe. Are we going to be in it? Are we going to be out of it? What role will we play in that mo’olelo?”
Big Island Video News will be featuring more of the testimonies recorded Thursday at the OHA meeting in Hilo.