(BIVN) – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees sat through hours of community concerns during its Thursday meeting in Hilo. Most who approached the microphone spoke against the Thirty Meter Telescope project planned for Mauna Kea, however there were a few testifiers who spoke in favor of TMT.
Hawaiian farmer and businessman Richard Ha was the most prominent TMT supporter to speak. But he was not alone.
Sandra Kirkpatrick, for example, thanked the OHA Trustees for listening to everyone’s concerns, even those speakers who are not Hawaiian.
She also congratulated Mayor Harry Kim for his speech before the OHA board, and explained how she moved to Hawaiʻi when she retired and appreciated the feeling of aloha.
To me, when the mayor talks about the Internationalness that is possible here, that the TMT will help bring – because it’s an international consortium – to me that’s a very practical way of showing that aloha.
That all these different nations got together to work on this particular project, and it is furthering the Hawaiian… ability or belief or spirituality… that started off a thousand years ago when they were navigating, using the stars. The telescope is using the stars to bring answers, just like the old Hawaiians used to.
To me, it’s a beautiful continuum and it’s perfectly fitting that it should be on the Mauna. I know that’s not a particularly favorable opinion here, but it’s mine. And I think it’s a lot of other people that they feel like that mountain is appropriate, and Hawaii is an appropriate place to have that.
I’m hoping – as I know that Mayor Kim must have been – that Hawaiians can see that and can continue to hold on to that aloha, continue to offer it to the world, and we’ll see the value of having that telescope here, even though a lot of other things have been attached to the telescope – that really, the telescope had nothing to do with – I hope that people will be able to move forward and to see the value not just in Hawaii but worldwide.
For TMT supporter Ian Imai, who was raised in Keaukaha, the observatory project represents the opportunity to keep his family together on Hawaiʻi Island.
Imai talked mostly about his daughter, who has an engineering degree:
She got hired by the University of Hawaiʻi to become an aerospace engineer. She is trying to get home to this island. She made her husband get a job here, but she’s still stuck in Honolulu.
Unfortunately my wife died a year and four months ago, and it’s getting kind of close to where she thought she was coming home.
What is Hawaiʻi? Hawaii is supposed to be a land of aloha. And we’re chasing away international people. What kind of message you think we were sending out there to to the rest of the world, that we’re selective in our Aloha?
I understand… the protectors of the land, and they have a right, but I’m trying to get my daughter home.
She truly wants to come home and try to get more work here. That’s all she’s trying to do, is trying to develop more work for the islands, with better paying jobs. We all don’t want to be working at McDonald’s for the rest of our lives.