New proposed Mauna Kea governing body leaves University of Hawaii out

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A working group assigned by the Hawaii State Legislature recommended a whole new management body for Mauna Kea.

The Mauna Kea Working Group was formed with the passing of a resolution during the 2021 legislative session, with State Rep. Mark Nakashima serving as the group’s chair.

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A report released Friday, Dec. 17, recommended the University of Hawaii (UH) to not have a seat on a proposed nine-member board. UH is the current leaseholder of the land until 2033.

The proposed Governing Entity would include current residents of Hawaii Island, Native Hawaiians, as well as top leadership from the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

The report made no recommendations for the controversial TMT project.

A December 2020 report from an independent evaluation of the Office of Mauna Kea Management by the Department of Land and Natural Resources said the office lacked engagement and outreach with the Native Hawaiian community.

The UH Mauna Kea Stewardship Executive Director Greg Chun responded to some of the criticism to Mauna Kea’s management during a press conference Friday afternoon.

“Many of the criticisms about UH are not necessarily tied to our management, but they’re tied to this larger issue. Of whether people want to see a future for astronomy on Maunakea, whether they want to see observatories up there. That is not a management question. That is a policy question that the state of Hawaii has to decide on.”

UH Mauna Kea Stewardship Executive Director Greg Chun

Despite the call for new management, UH has its own proposed Mauna Kea Master Plan. The university said its plan for the next 20 years includes reducing the impact on Mauna Kea by operating no more than nine telescopes by the end of its current lease.

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The public comment period for the Maun Kea Working Group management proposal will be open until January 4, 2022.

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