(BIVN) – Before the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents voted to adopt the Maunakea stewardship resolution and administrative rules on Wednesday, 99 people testified on both matters at the UH-Hilo Performing Arts Center meeting.
Big Island Video News was only able to record parts of the 11 hour hearing, and here are five notable public testimonies:
Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, (video above) speaking on behalf of herself and Pualani Kanahele – both of whom were arrested on the Mauna Kea Access Road (or as they now call it, the Ala Hulu Kūpuna) on July 17 during the blockade of the Thirty Meter Telescope – objected to the UH regents’ stewardship resolution. “We object to item number 3,” Wong-Wilson said, “which directs that a new telescope facility be built at Halepōhaku for the Hōkū Keʻa telescope. There shall be no further telescope facilities built on Maunakea, anywhere. This directive flies in the face of promises that no more telescopes shall be built, yet here you are planning a 15th facility to replace one planned for decommission. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Wong-Wilson also objected to plans for an educational center at Halepōhaku. Still, regents voted to include both measures in the adopted resolution.
“We’re now at a critical junction where major changes should take place on the mountain for the management and the involvement of Native Hawaiians in determining the future of our most sacred spaces,” Wong-Wilson concluded, to a standing ovation.
Doug Simons, the Executive Director of the Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope and a member of the Mauna Kea Management Board, provided some of the most impactful testimony on the stewardship resolution. Simons (who testified before the UH Performing Arts Center crew trained the spotlight on the testifiers) brought to the board’s attention a letter from the National Science Foundation. The NSF expressed concern about the plan to decommission certain telescopes. “I’m raising this because if the National Science Foundation has perspective on this we should all take note about it,” Simons said. The NSF concerns appeared to figure into the regents’ amendments that were later adopted into the stewardship resolution.
Tom Peek, the former astronomy guide and author of books as well as numerous editorials critical of current Maunakea management, offered a list of recommendations that could help the regents to de-escalate tensions on the mountain. “I recommend that you begin tackling some of the actual mismanagement problems that continue to damage the university’s respect and reputation,” Peek said.
His second suggestion: “In the name of restoring community peace and cohesion – and following Regent Nahale-a’s example – withdraw the University’s support for the Thirty Meter Telescope and urge the TMT, and urge the TMT Board of Governors to take that telescope elsewhere so you can actually begin the healing work, once that’s out of here,” Peek said.
Award-winning author Mark Panek focused his testimony on cultural trauma, a recurring theme found in the manaʻo shared on Wednesday. “We hear the astronomers come up here, and they say this is the most scientifically productive place on planet Earth to study astronomy,” Panek told the Regents. “It’s a little embarrassing, maybe, to say that this is also the most academically productive place on planet Earth to study the effects of historical trauma on indigenous people,” a statement that drew appreciative applause from the crowd.
“We study historical trauma so we don’t repeat the Holocaust,” Panek said. “So we don’t repeat the labor laws of nineteenth-century plantations. So we don’t have genocide.”
“This thing is dividing all of us,” Panek said of the current conflict over Maunakea. “That’s tearing actual families apart.”
Lisa Malakaua, a resident of Panaʻewa, spoke in favor of moving forward with the TMT project. With Ryan Thompson of Disruptarian Radio by her side, Malakaua spent her time trying to debunk a number of kiaʻi claims over the Mauna Kea Access Road, Hawaiian Home Lands, and the Hawaiian Kingdom. “They have no intention of leaving that access road, no matter how long it takes,” Malakaua said. “I believe they will continue to balk at every attempt in resolving this matter and I also believe they are going to continue using every stalling tactic in order to cause further delays.”
The testimony riled the crowd. Malakaua and Thompson were later involved in a verbal confrontation with TMT opponents outside the UH Performing Arts Center, which was video recorded from various angles, resulting in an apparent challenge between Thompson and Edward Halealoha Ayau to debate the issue of Mauna Kea Access Road jurisdiction.
Big Island Video News will soon be publishing part 2: five more testimonies from the UH Board of Regents meeting in Hilo.