With a time-out announced by the governor, the University of Hawaii Board of Regents heard from both opponents and supporters of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project.
Hundreds turned out Thursday for a special meeting at UH Hilo that lasted most of the day.
Opponents protesting the construction of the telescope atop Mauna Kea say the site is sacred to Native Hawaiians.
The turnout was massive with standing room only. The meeting began at 11:15 a.m. and wrapped up at around 3:15 p.m.
Part of the meeting was supposed to include a presentation by the Office of Mauna Kea Management, but because of the large turnout and limited time, officials decided to go straight to the testimonies.
Some were there to voice their opinions, and others simply to listen and support their cause. Each person who signed up to speak was given three minutes at the podium.
“Our stand is not against scientific advancement. Our stand is not against technology or telescopes. Our stand is not against the science of astronomy. I want to make it clear that our stand is against the location.”
“It is also felt that you are ignoring what this mountain truly means to us Native Hawaiians and you and UH are using our culture and values to justify the TMT.”
Some used their time on the stand to ask questions. “Are the strings on your skull so tight that you can’t change your minds at this point?”
Even young students braved the sea of adults to speak their mind.
During the several hours of testimony, the number of TMT supporters were severely outnumbered by those who oppose it.
“Mauna Kea, the combination of qualities that it has are unmatched. It is truly unique and scientists around the world understand and recognize this mountain as the standard by which all other sites around the world are compared to. It is the gold standard.”
There were also moments when the crowd came together, united in song.
But not everyone who signed up was able to testify.
A University of Hawaii spokesman said the Board of Regents will not be making any decisions at this time.
For anyone who wasn’t able to testify due to the time constraints, the university says it will find a way to keep the conversation open so that everyone’s voice is heard.
We’ve also reached out to the public relations firm who is representing TMT but have yet to receive a response.