VIDEO: Walk Out for Mauna Kea Staged at UHMCApril 13, 2015, 2:41 PM HST · Updated April 14, 1:46 PM 0 Comments
By Wendy Osher
More than 100 students, faculty and staff at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College staged a Walk Out for Mauna Kea this afternoon in which they delivered a letter stating opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope or “TMT” project to Vice Chancellor Dr. John McKee.
The letter is an appeal to UH President David Lassner, and the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents, to “stop the TMT construction on Mauna Kea indefinitely.”
The letter from the Pūkoʻa Council, the Native Hawaiian advisory council of the University of Hawaiʻi states: “This stance is in alignment with the UH system’s commitment to be a Hawaiian place of learning and the BOR policy on Sustainability. In order to fulfill that commitment, it is necessary for the University to make decisions that respect and perpetuate Native Hawaiian cultural values. The University of Hawaiʻi is the steward of Mauna Kea and the construction of the TMT represents extreme disrespect and devaluation of Hawaiians; this is unacceptable.”
The council is composed of representatives from all ten University of Hawaiʻi system campuses. The council met with president Lassner at Kapʻiolani Community College earlier this month, at which time the group advised him that they stand firmly against the TMT project, and urged that construction be halted.
Today’s letter garnered the support of Hawaiian Councils at eight campuses within the UH system including UHMC’s Lauʻulu Council and the UH Mānoa Kualiʻi Council.
At a teach-in prior to the procession, Kahele Dukelow, an assistant professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii Maui College outlined three major reasons– cultural, political, and environmental–for taking a stand against the construction of the TMT on Mauna Kea.
“When we talk about Mauna Kea being a sacred place, we call the tops of our mountains wao akua, a realm of gods. This is a religious practice. The way we view our land; the way that we interact with our land; the way we engage our land—it is a religious practice that’s been developed over thousands of years for a specific reason, mainly to promote the health of our land so that we can continue to live here for thousands of generations more. To promote the balance between ʻāina (our land) and people” said Dukelow.
Over the weekend, Governor David Ige announced a timeout extension on construction at the site until Monday, April 20, 2015.
While demonstrators applauded the initial one-week pause in construction, members of the group Mauna Kea Protectors called the halt a temporary victory, and said more is need to stop desecration of the site until legal appeals can work their way through the courts.
Those in opposition to the project have expressed concern over continued development at the sacred site. Supporters say they believe that science and culture can coexist on the mountain and maintain that permits were secured to build at the location after a seven-year public process.