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A vision for Maunakea

While law enforcers are preparing a response to anticipated protests of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea, Mayor Harry Kim is talking to stakeholders, has assembled a committee of Hawaiian cultural leaders and released his vision statement for the mountain’s future.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important than us resolving this in a good way … meaning that it benefits the people of Hawaii and the world,” Kim said Monday. “Those are not just words to me.”

Attorney General Clare Connors told lawmakers last month that Hawaii County will take the lead in the state’s response to protesters who attempt to interrupt construction of the telescope, which is expected to resume within the next few months.

Protests of the planned $1.4 billion observatory interrupted groundbreaking in 2014 and halted construction in 2015.

The state Supreme Court overturned its land use permit because of due process violations. The high court in November, however, affirmed a new permit after another contested case hearing.

Deputy Police Chief Joseph Bugado said Hawaii Police Department will take the lead in any enforcement action “since we have the most resources on the island.”

“Our main objective, of course, is to be sure there are no blockades or blockages in the road (to the summit),” Bugado said. “The opponents of the project have every right to protest, and we’re going to be sure to provide a safe area for the protesters, if they do want to protest the project.”

Some opponents, who call themselves “protectors” of Maunakea, said they plan to block construction vehicles again as they did in 2015. The mountain has cultural significance to Native Hawaiians, and some consider it sacred.

Bugado noted that while county police will take the lead, they will be assisted by officers from the state Sheriff’s Division and the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

State and county law enforcers responded to protesters blocking the Maunakea Access Road in 2015 outside and above the visitor information station. Arrests were made, but many charges were later dropped.

County police officers left after protesters reached the state-owned portion of the road near Hale Pohaku. Bugado affirmed county police will continue leading enforcement efforts on state property, as well.

Kim, meanwhile, said he has had discussions with the governor, attorney general, University of Hawaii Board of Regents, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools, Keaukaha and Panaewa community associations, Liliuokalani Trust and other interested individuals in developing his “Vision for Maunakea” statement.

“For us to go forward, our main responsibility is to understand the whole issue of discontent,” Kim said, adding, “this is from 1893.”

That was the year the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in a coup d’état by a group of businessmen and sugar planters, who forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate the throne.

“I think this is a very important issue for a lot of people in this state — and I’m not talking about the telescope. I’m talking about the polarization of people. And that is my biggest concern,” Kim said.

Kim’s statement said his vision is “about what Maunakea can be for the world.”

That vision statement, released to the Tribune-Herald on Monday, includes Maunakea as “a symbol of nations working together for the pursuit of peace and harmony,” as well as “a symbol of Native Hawaiian heritage and the inseparability of nature and culture” and “a recognition of a deeply painful history of intrusions on the first Nation of Hawaii … .”

Kim’s Maunakea Core Committee includes: Chad Kalepa Baybayan, master navigator and a captain of the Polynesian Voyaging Society canoe Hokule‘a; Gregory Chun, Ph.D., Office of Maunakea Management board chairman and UH’s senior adviser on Maunakea; Lucille Chung of the Hawaiian Civic Club; Larry Kimura, associate professor of Hawaiian language at UH-Hilo; Kepa Maly, cultural ethnographer resource specialist at Lana‘i Culture and Heritage Center; and Ka‘iulani Pahio, director of community programs at Kanu o ka ‘Aina Learning ‘Ohana.

Kim said his mission is to get more people together and see if, somehow, “we can come to some kind of agreement.”

“I have yet to meet anyone who refused to talk to me,” he said. “I have yet to meet anyone where we parted in anger or frustration or anything like that, because the whole mission is to get them to understand what I’m trying to do.”

The mayor stressed that the state and county are working “together for the enforcement of the policies on Maunakea.”

“I know they are working to ensure that there’s harmony and no conflict in who does what,” Kim said.

Email John Burnett at



Maunakea to be a symbol of the Native Hawaiian culture: past, present and future — a cultural and natural treasure. This is about the protection and preservation of the historical and cultural specialness of this land, the most precious and beautiful of places and its people.

A central theme of Maunakea should be of the Native Hawaiians’ exploration of the ocean to the discoveries of the universe. Hawaiians understood how the world was connected from the mountain to the sea. They explored the ocean and learned about the heavens to guide them. They believe that this majestic mountain is the earth’s connecting point to the rest of the universe. This is about the mountain being part of their soul. This is about the mountain bringing people together.

This is about what Maunakea can be for the world:

— Maunakea to be a symbol of nations working together for the pursuit of peace and harmony, a beacon of hope and discovery for the world. This is not just about science. It is about combining culture and science. It is about respect and caring. It is about a quest for knowledge that will make us a better people and better stewards of this world.

— Maunakea to be a symbol of Native Hawaiian heritage and the inseparability of nature and culture.

— Maunakea to be a recognition of a deeply painful history of intrusions on the First Nation of Hawaii, which today are reflected in issues such as Maunakea.

— Maunkea to be a symbol for the world of a cosmopolitan people (“people of the world”) where diversity is respected and celebrated.

— Maunakea to be a model of science and of culture going forward.

— Maunakea to be an opportunity for the gift of aloha to be presented to the world.


Convene a core group representing different interests and expertise to provide direction and guidance in developing the following initiatives.

Cultural Treasure

— Create a major cultural center and gathering place that will acknowledge the history of native Hawaiians.

— In the use of Maunakea, it should emphasize the inseparability of nature and culture and aim to be a center of excellence in that field.


— Recognize and preserve the qualities of Maunakea that make it a premier place to expand our knowledge of the universe.

— Explore with humility and respect, inviting and sharing knowledge across disciplines among all ages, educational levels, beliefs, and nationalities.


— Create educational programs that combine science and culture for nā keiki and na kupuna, not just for learning but for the sheer joy and excitement of discovery.

— Innovate with learning opportunities that increase the world’s awareness and understanding of Hawaiian history and values, established on a foundation of Hawaiian culture.

— Pursue the development of dynamic programs that stimulate careers in science and humanities.


— Review and reorganize management authority.

— Paramount to future management is involvement of the host culture. Beacon of hope for the world

— Be a model of how the people of the world can live together in harmony, to create a place for ho‘oponopono where people can come together to learn.

— Be a leader in national and international efforts to integrate culture and nature in heritage protection and interpretation, a status that establishes Maunakea as a monument of global significance.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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