Day 57: Conflict between protectors of Mauna Kea and the state continues

Local News

HILO (KHON2) — Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says nothing is going on after word quickly spread that National Guard troops would be on their way to the mountain.

Those opposed to construction of the Thirty Meter Telscope have blocked access to the summit of Mauna Kea since July 15.

It’s been 57 days since the ki’ai, or protectors first took a stand and set up camp across Mauna Kea Access Road.

While Mayor Kim remains optimistic about reaching a resolution, the kiai continue to be resolute in their intent to halt the project.

Eight weeks later and the conflict between the protectors of Mauna kea and the states efforts to build TMT on their sacred summit, remains unchanged.

More than a thousand kiai gathered on Mauna kea access road after the kahea, or call, went out that the national guard was coming to clear the camp.

“In the last week received multiple reports from multiple sources and they’ve come in a short amount of time, and that led us to believe it was true,” said Kahookahi Kanuha.

But the national guard didn’t show and law enforcement didn’t act.

KHON2 sat down with Mayor Kim who wanted to dispel the rumors.

“I just talked to the governor this morning,” said Mayor Kim. “I said ‘You know the rumor is still going around,’ and he said ‘Yeah. I know but how else you tell them, no I have not called for that.'”

Kim says he and Governor Ige are working together and he would know if the governor was bringing in the National Guard.

“I promise you there is nothing going on,” Mayor Kim insisted.

Kanuha says that although numbers have dipped at times over the last month the desire to protect the Mauna has not, and those who come are learning and participating more.

“I think that’s the growth we see here,” said Kanuha. “It’s not just non violent direct action get in the middle of the road stop machines. that happens when it has to happen, but outside of that time we are solidifying our foundation that we stand on”

Action taken by officials to remove an unpermitted structure, cutting through the Hawaiian flag on Friday drew fire and only strengthened their resolve.

“What we saw that day was the swing of the flag,” said Kanuha. “1/2 is why we’re standing to protect Mauna kea because just like they saw the flag 1/2 if TMT makes it up the mountain they’re going to do the same thing to our Mauna.”

Mayor Kim also expressed his hope for an amicable resolution and is drafting a proposal he Hope’s will help in that end.

“Purpose of this presentation is beyond a yes or no of the TMT project,” said Kim. “We just hope that this proposal and the TMT along with astronomy will set a new milestone for science and discovery, and will bring knowledge to the world, and be a catalyst for positive transformational changes that truly embraces the harmony between culture in science.”

Kanuha says theres only one way a new proposal will work

“If the proposal is not to build TMT on Mauna kea, then yes that would affect our stance here cause that’s the only reason we are here,” explained Kanuha.

There is tension here on the mauna.

Mayor Kim does seem firmly committed to TMT.

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