OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

OHA leadership demands halt to TMT construction to avoid harm to Native Hawaiians & the public until steps are taken to ensure public safety

HONOLULU (July 13, 2019) – OHA Chair Colette Machado and OHA Trustee Dan Ahuna call on Gov. David Ige to halt all planned construction activities for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) to avoid harm to Native Hawaiians and others until four material steps are taken to ensure public safety.

OHA Chair Colette Machado and Trustee Dan Ahuna, chair of the OHA Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Mauna Kea, sent a letter late yesterday to Gov. Ige noting that TMT construction is moving forward without the state sufficiently addressing the Native Hawaiian community’s longstanding opposition to the state’s decades-long pattern of mismanagement of Maunakea, one of our island’s most sacred spaces.

In their letter, Chair Machado and Trustee Ahuna said:

[I]n light of the ongoing neglect and mismanagement of Maunakea, the clear and unwarranted bias against those concerned for this sacred space, and the continued and reaffirmed commitment of many Native Hawaiians and others to protest the TMT unless and until their ongoing concerns have been addressed, it is highly likely and clearly foreseeable that the commencement of construction activities for the TMT will result in bodily harm and psychological trauma to OHA’s beneficiaries and others at the hands of the State. In the interests of peace, justice, and public safety, we therefore implore you to place a halt on all TMT construction activities pending the identification of solutions to more meaningfully respect the cultural beliefs and well-founded concerns of Native Hawaiians and others, and ensure the safety of those wishing to practice their culture and express their concerns.

Chair Machado and Trustee Ahuna’s letter demands a halt to TMT construction until the following steps are taken by government officials to protect Native Hawaiians and the public:

  1. Condemn and prohibit, unconditionally, any further government action to provoke or intimidate Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners or Protectors, including through the dismantling of culturally or spiritually significant structures or the issuance of unfounded allegations or statements that mischaracterize or dismiss cultural and environmental concerns;
  2. Coordinate with all relevant state and county agencies, UH officials, OHA representatives, and Native Hawaiian community members to meaningfully alleviate tensions within the Native Hawaiian community and recognize and respect all cultural beliefs regarding the sacred Mauna, as necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of OHA’s beneficiaries;
  3. Prohibit, unconditionally, the use of any and all unwarranted force against nonviolent protestors and Protectors, including the use of any Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) or “less-than-lethal” weapons and crowd control devices capable of inflicting bodily or psychological harm; and
  4. Ensure the safety of all who wish to exercise their cultural practices and right to peaceful expression and opposition, including through the mutually agreed-upon establishment of sufficient spaces where Protectors and practitioners may safely assemble, rest, monitor, and voice their opposition to any government-sanctioned activities that may occur on Maunakea, including near or on its summit and near any cultural features or sites.

For information on OHA’s lawsuit and the state’s continued mismanagement of Mauna Kea please visit www.oha.org/maunakea.

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