Thirty Meter Telescope construction delayed

Local News

Just one day after more protests against construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea, a big announcement came from the governor’s office.

On Saturday, Gov. David Ige announced that the Thirty Meter Telescope team has informed him it will postpone construction until April 20.

“I thank TMT for its willingness to be respectful and sensitive to all of Hawaii – its special people, its sense of place and its unique host culture,” said Gov. Ige.

For those who have been against the Thirty Meter Telescope, it’s a sign of hope for their cause.

“There’s certain places where you just cannot compromise anymore. There’s just too much that’s been lost in the Hawaiian community. So I think this is gonna be one of those positions where the Hawaiians are gonna come out and demand that the protect this sacred mountain. And I think we’re gonna win,” said Walter Ritte, a Native Hawaiian activist.

Over the last couple of weeks, protesters have been picking up momentum, garnering support from around the world — even through social media. But for some Native Hawaiian activists, this is just the beginning.

“But our position now is changing from stopping the building of this big telescope to getting all of those telescopes off of that mountain. So we’ll start from there. We’re gonna demand a lot more because they’ve crossed a line. They’ve done too much destruction on that mountain,” said Ritte.

It’s a mountain that’s already home to some of the world’s most advanced telescopes, but still considered sacred land to Native Hawaiians.

“It’s the coming together of sky father and papa earth. Earth mother. So this is a very, very, very sacred place to the Hawaiians. And at this point in time, it’s becoming a rallying call. We feel that if we’re not gonna be able to save that mountain, we’re not gonna be able to even save the Hawaiians,” said Ritte.

On Saturday, KHON2 reached out to the Thirty Meter Telescope team and received the following statement:

We appreciate the support of the Governor and our community advocates for our decision to hold construction until at least April 20. We are continuing to consult with community leaders, and appreciate their input in the process. – Gary Sanders, TMT project manager.

Saturday night, Kamahana Kealoha, an advocate for the Sacred Mauna Kea Hui, released the following response:

Although State entities have made decisions in the past to allow the TMT to pass through the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Conservation District Use Application process, the flagrant industrialization of an endangered species district reasonably warrants that entities involved seriously consider the legal ramifications of denying kanaka, and all Hawaii citizens, the basic humanity and protections securing the absolute safety of Hawaii Island’s main freshwater aquifer, a resource essential to all life.

The Sacred Mauna Kea Hui also asserts that respect, in keeping with the Hawaiian customs associated with any remains interred, be afforded to iwi, or Hawaiian burials, and that these sacred remains should never be, for any reason, desecrated by disturbing them in any way.

The Sacred Mauna Kea Hui maintains that an endangered species, protected environment, should never be industrialized so blatantly a stone’s throw away from Hawaii island’s main water aquifer which is also home to countless sacred, unidentified, traditionally interred graves.

Protesters plan to rally at Iolani Palace on Sunday at noon. The event is free and open to the public.

Earlier Saturday, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees also requested an extension of the moratorium.

To see a response to the protests from the University of Hawaii dated March 31, click here.

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