Hundreds Recognize 100th Day of Protest at Maunakea

October 21, 2019, 12:29 AM HST · Updated October 21, 12:38 AM
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It has now been 100 days since protestors, who consider themselves kia’i or protectors, established a 24/7 blockade at the base of Maunakea to prevent the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Couple hundreds of TMT opponents gathered at the University of Hawai’i Maui College on Sunday evening to mark the occasion.

The demonstrators danced hula and recited oli (chants) as a part of a protocol that was synchronized with another held at the protest encampment below the Hawaiʻi Island mountain, which is deemed culturally sacred to Native Hawaiians.

“Maui has been with Maunakea since the beginning,” Mahina Martin, one of the organizers, said while addressing the crowd.

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Amongst the assembly was Sesame Shim, one of the kia’i from Maui who joined the protest on the first day.

“From the beginning, it was amazing to see the movement grow,” Shim remarked.

“It’s amazing to see our lāhui still stand strong and unified together. It just shows our resilience.”

Shim credited the commitment of every protestor involved for sustaining the movement for this long.

“We all are on the same page about this, weʻre all passionate about our ʻāina and our humanity,” Shim added. “Weʻre ready to stand even longer, whatever it takes, until the last aloha ʻāina.”

TMT supporter Brialyn Onodera applauded opponents for their organized efforts.

“I believe in the greater message that the demonstrators were trying to send; that Hawaiians need to have access to their ancestral lands in order to nuture them and care for their sacred spaces,” Onodera said.

“It’s wonderful to see fellow Hawaiians banding together for a greater goal.”

However, Onodera believes the telescope would not desecreate Maunakea, which protestors cite as the basis of their resistance.

“TMT is an evolution of stargazing and will allow Hawaii to remain on the forefront of astronomical contributions,” Onodera added.

Onodera blamed the state for its inaction, saying the months of protests could have been avoided.

In a statement released back in July, Mayor Michael Victorino said he defends “the right of Native Hawaiians and supporters to take a stand and express their opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope.”

“I understand that the issues they bring to our attention are difficult ones, and I hope to engage in a productive dialogue about them,” the statement read.

The mayor also mentioned that organizers have continuously kept the county informed while planning rallies.

“I pray that we unite as one people who love our islands, and we continue to work together for the good of those who call them home,” the statement concluded.

The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents will decide on proposed administrative rules for managing land on Maunakea at a meeting next month.

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