Maui News

UH Regents approve new Maunakea Master Plan

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Maunakea. PC: University of Hawaiʻi – Hilo

The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents adopted the new Master Plan for UH-managed lands on Maunakea at its Jan. 20 monthly board meeting.

The Master Plan for the University of Hawaiʻi Maunakea Lands: E Ō I Nā Leo (Listen to the Voices) replaces the Master Plan the BOR adopted in 2000 and does not result in the approval, adoption or funding of new projects or land uses.

According to UH, the new Master Plan will “serve as a framework for aligning land-use decisions in a manner that is consistent with UH’s mission and purpose. Its overarching goals are related to responsible stewardship, maintaining leadership in astronomy, diversifying educational pursuits and seeking balance among those who come to Maunakea.” 


The plan’s strategies include broadening Native Hawaiian and community participation in planning and programming; measures to reduce impacts to the cultural landscape and natural resources, especially in the summit region, by limiting development; and repurposing the Halepōhaku mid-level facility into a Multidisciplinary Field Station.

The UH Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship is responsible for administering the Master Plan along with the Comprehensive Management Plan and the administrative rules. In addition to the CMP are four sub-plans (public access, cultural resources management, natural resources management and observatory decommissioning) that address activities that include hunting, gathering, recreation and traditional and customary practices. The administrative rules cover public and commercial activities.

About 150 people submitted written testimony to the BOR, a majority in support of the new plan, and about 30 provided oral testimony, predominantly in opposition of the plan. Most of the opposition focused on other Maunakea-related issues including the Thirty Meter Telescope, the State House of Representatives Mauna Kea Working Group draft report, the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and whether astronomy and the existence of telescopes should continue on the summit.


“The issues we have to resolve—historical issues, best management of Maunakea—this plan is not going to fix them,” said UH Regent Alapaki Nahale-a, who voted in favor of the plan. “I hope that for us, as regents, and for those watching, we don’t continue to practice votes like this, meaning no one is listening and no one cares. I hope those who are concerned and hurt will still have a conversation about how we can do better.” 

Greg Chun, the executive director of CMS, agreed saying after the meeting, “These are important issues that go beyond the question of management that the State of Hawaiʻi and the broader community needs to discuss.”

The purpose of the 65-year lease granted to UH by the State in 1968 was to operate the Maunakea Science Reserve as a scientific complex to establish astronomy in Hawaiʻi. “The 1998 State audit critical of the university’s overall management of the mauna made it clear that the privilege of stewardship carries an even greater responsibility to care for Maunakea, which led to the development of the management plans, establishment of the Maunakea Rangers, greater protection of natural and cultural resources and other stewardship improvements,” administrators said in a UH press release.


The university also received more than 1,450 comments (online, telephone messages, US Postal Service) on the draft of the new plan during a more than month-long public comment period that ended in late October.


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