(BIVN) – During Thursday’s Land Use Commission meeting on the district classification for lands on Mauna Kea, a retired state law enforcement officer testified on how he is still concerned about the protection of natural resources on the mountain, from the other side of the line.
In the midst of the ongoing standoff over the Thirty Meter Telescope, Kuʻulei Higashi Kanahele and Ahiena Kanahele are requesting a Declaratory Order from the Land Use Commission, concerning “the invalid classification of the de facto and improper industrial use precinct” on Mauna Kea, where international telescopes observe the night sky.
On July 17, law enforcement officers arrested 38 kūpuna on the Mauna Kea Access Road, but were unable to clear a path for TMT construction crews to ascend the mountain. Opponents and government officials have been at an impasse ever since.
James Kanani Kaulukukui, Jr., a retired law enforcement officer, testified before the Land Use Commission during the meeting in Hilo. “I’ve been related to as, I am the enemy of the people,” Kaulukukui said of his time as a Hawaiʻi DLNR DOCARE officer. “But now, since I’m retired, I can say what I want to say. And I don’t have to worry about getting fired.”
Kaulukukui said he’s the guy that was sent to “do all the dirty work, especially up there on Mauna Kea.”
Now, he stands with the kiaʻi. “Half the guys up there I know, personally, and I trained them,” he testified. “And they saw me over there and they say ‘whoa!’, and I said ‘yeah, you guys might have to take me today.’ That’s the way it goes.”
“I told them when I sign up as DOCARE, I raise my right hand and said I goin’ protect the natural resources of the state from foreign and domestics,” Kaulukukui said, with emotion in his voice.
“And I say, what are we doing?” he asked. “Now ,the kūpuna are doing it,” he said.
Big Island Video News will have more from Thursday’s Land Use Commission meeting in Hilo.