(BIVN) – Richard Ha was one of a handful of Thirty Meter Telescope supporters to speak before the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees in Hilo on Thursday.
Over the years, Ha – a Native Hawaiian farmer and businessman – has been a staunch advocate for the TMT project planned for Mauna Kea. He also supports educational opportunities on the mountain as a member of the non-profit PUEO organization.
Here is Ha’s testimony, delivered at the Thursday meeting:
My name is Richard Ha. I am a board member of Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities (PUEO).
PUEO was the only Native Hawaiian entity to enter the recent contested case hearing supporting the TMT. We support Mayor Kim’s vision.
Our President is Keahi Warfield. He is in the final stage of getting his doctorate degree in Hawaiian studies. He is all about keiki education. Some of the other board members are:
Patrick Kahawaiolaʻa, President of the Keaukaha Hawaiian Homes Community Association
Bill Brown, President of the Panaewa Hawaiian Homes Community Association
Heather Kaluna; she went to Pahoa High School, now she is an instructor at UH-Hilo astronomy department.
Mailani Neal. You folks may remember that she tearfully testified in front of you all, when she was still in high school. Now, she is pursuing an advanced degree in astronomy.
Kalepa Baybayan, Master Navigator
Skibs Nehls. Everyone knows him for taking Honoliʻi County Park and – with youngsters from the community – transformed it, into an example of community service.
I was a commercial farmer for 40 years. We produced 6 million pounds of bananas as well as 1 million lbs of hydroponic tomatoes.
My focus now is on community development projects. We just formalized a Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce to help empower Native Hawaiian businesses. The pluses must exceed the minuses in order for people to reach back and pull our people up. I also am on the boards of HICDC, a non profit affordable housing organization, as well as Keaukaha Community Assets, which helps community folks to deal with KCA’s Financial Opportunity Center, in partnership with local providers, will offer career and small-business training, financial education and counseling, and access to public benefits, free tax preparation, loans and grants.
“The vision of this center is to be a community gathering place where our families can share and learn from one another,” said HCA Island Manager Kelly Lincoln.
PUEO supports Mayor Kim’s vision of a Culture/Science Center above the clouds. A place where Aloha, Education and Sustainability is the Moral Authority of what takes place on Maunakea. Astronomy is not the primary reason. This could be a place where the Hawaiian language school could provide a pipeline of instructors who could help the world learn who Hawaiians were and why their values could help the world adapt to the changes ahead. We want our youngsters to feel like they can do anything they want and to feel proud of who their ancestors were and how these values can help the world cope and adapt to the changes coming.
PUEO has noted that OHA has given funds to the anti-TMT folks at Pu’u Huluhulu. We pro-TMT supporters are Hawaiians too and would like to ask for support from OHA, as well. We are all volunteers, with very limited funding to pursue our vision. We want to elevate Hawaiian values to the highest level possible.
Ha’s testimony also included some manaʻo about energy. Ha said:
On a personal note, we need to be mindful of energy. Nothing happens without energy. Most of the US oil supply is provided by shale wells. The problem is that shale wells give out 90% of its production in less than 4 years. But, we are lucky that we have geothermal. It’s abundant, it’s the cheapest 24/7 source of power, it emits no climate change emissions and it uses the earth as the battery. It is estimated that there is more heat under Maunakea than under the entire East Rift.
Big Island Video News will be featuring more of the testimonies recorded Thursday at the OHA meeting in Hilo.