Governor Ige meets with kiaʻi and kupuna at Mauna Kea

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Governor Ige arrived on Mauna Kea at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

His arrival comes on Day 9 of the construction stand off.

“Absolutely not,” said Governor Ige. “There are many activities that are required to be here. It does require someone to be on. This was something that the mayor and I talked with at length. We’ve been in conversation daily, multiple times a day. We thought that maybe having Harry support me in this capacity would be the best way to gather people to talk about the challenges and the best way forward .”

To date, state officers have arrested, cited and released 38 protestors for blocking the Mauna Kea access road, preventing construction crews from taking materials to the mountain summit where the thirty meter telescope will be built.

The blockade continues and .Governor David Ige is asking Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim to take the lead in working with the protestors, who at their request he called protectors of the mountain, to find common ground.

On Tuesday, the Hilo circuit court shot down the protestors attempt to halt construction.

It was a very eventful day with rulings and decisions being made in the courts as well as behind closed doors that could greatly impact the ongoing stand off between the kia’i on Mauna Kea and the state’s efforts to begin construction on the thirty meter telescope.

Earlier Tuesday Governor Ige released a statement.

Today, I am asking Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim to coordinate both county and state efforts to peacefully attempt to reach common ground with the protectors of Maunakea and the broader community. Mayor Kim is closest to the situation and the impacts are greatest on the island he leads.  

We both share the goal of achieving a resolution that is peaceful and satisfactory to as many as possible in the community. I support the vision he has widely articulated for Maunakea as a beacon of hope and discovery for the world that brings us together rather than divides us. And we both understand that the issues underlying what is taking place today are far deeper than TMT or Maunakea. They are about righting the wrongs done to the Hawaiian people going back more than a century.

While Mayor Kim will be taking the lead, hard decisions will need to be jointly supported by the state and county and we will be working together to determine next steps that are in the best interests of all the people of Hawaiʻi.”         

Governor david ige

The governor and Mayor Harry Kim are meeting at the time of this writing.

Harry Kim taking the lead is welcome news for the kiai who have managed to hold off construction of the thirty meter telescope by blocking entry to Mauna Kea access road for nine days.

“We are hopeful and encouraged that together,” said Kahookahi Kanuha, kia’i of Mauna Kea. “We can work together and we can move forward in a way that is better and is to the benefit of all people in Hawaii.”

Kanuha says he is hopeful Mayor Kim will use his influence to relocate TMT to the Canary Islands, another viable location for the project.

Governor Ige’s statement also shows a shift in language that Kanuha says has not gone unnoticed.

“We are encouraged and are filled with hope by the governors new language and his ability to finally recognize us not as protesters but as protectors of Mauna Kea,” Kahookahi Kanuha, kia’i of Mauna Kea said.

In court Tuesday, the motion to grant a temporary restraining order to halt construction was denied.

“This project has gone a lengthy over-exhaustive and thorough review at every level of government including the Hawaii Supreme Court,” said Amanda Weston, Deputy Attorney General. “All have concluded that the majority of public interest favors and supports this project. we respectfully ask the court to deny the TRO today.”

The plaintiffs filed the motion claiming TMT needed to post a bond for the full amount of the 1.42 billion dollar project.

“Evidence has not been presented to show that the LLC is not financially unable to complete the project therefore at this juncture,” said Judge Greg Nakamura, Hilo Circuit Court. “The application for a temporary restraining order is denied.”

The kia’i say they do have another opportunity to amend the complaint and promise to do so.

“This should strengthen the resolve of the public,” said plaintiff Paul Neves. “If you don’t think there’s something wrong in Hawaii you need to listen to these kinds of decisions.”

Douglas Ing, attorney for TMT says they may have a legal right to extend the permit to begin construction beyond their september deadline because they have been illegally denied access to the summit of Mauna Kea to begin construction.

“It’s debatable whether time runs out on September 26,” said TMT International Observatory attorney Douglas Ing, “That’s based on a two-year time limit to commence construction. It’s our position that we’ve already commenced construction. We began construction essentially in 2015.”

Ing says they could bring legal action to argue that point.

As day nine draws to a close, both sides remain deadlocked, with not solution yet in sight.

The kia’i released the following response to the governor’s statement.

Today, the kiaʻi standing in protection of Maunakea learned that one of the observatories has a critical issue they need to address on the summit and would like to extend our support to providing access to the facility in need. 

Employees of the Maunakea Observatories, which represents all the existing telescopes on the summit, have not accessed the summit since July 16, when their officials voluntarily and preemptively pulled all their employees from the mountain. While we respect their decision to leave their facilities on Maunakea and continue their work from elsewhere, we would like to make it clear that the choice to cease operations on the summit was theirs and theirs alone.

The kiaʻi remain steadfast in their commitment to prevent the further desecration of the mountain through the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. We reaffirm that have always been willing to ensure mutual access to the summit for cultural protocols as well as ongoing telescope operations. In exchange, we have simply asked that one vehicle of kiaʻi be allowed to the summit each day for cultural and religious protocols as is our constitutionally protected right. 

To be clear, it is not the kiaʻi nor anyone from the observatories who are refusing this request. It is Governor Ige. We urge Governor Ige to agree to our simple request and resolve the issue now for the benefit of all. And we are hopeful that he will do this. 

We have just been made aware of the statement by Gov Ige. Despite the fact that he has not visited Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu or Maunakea, we are encouraged that the Governor has finally acknowledged our role as protectors of the mountain and his commitment to working together to right the wrongs of the Hawaiian people.” 

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