News, updates, finds, and stories from staff and community members at KAHEA.
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Defend the Sacred Summit of Mauna Kea

Your help is needed right now. Lobbyists for the University of Hawaii, backed by powerful foreign telescope-developers, are pushing hard to take control of Mauna Kea’s public trust resources and override the conservation laws currently barring further development on our sacred summits. If successful, they will use this authority to write their own rules, approve their own permits, and shut-out the public. Public trust resources cannot be protected if the developers are allowed to police themselves.

Puu Hau Kea -- Massive Volcanic Cinder Cone On the flanks of Mauna Kea Hawaii

You can help stop UH’s land-grab on Mauna Kea’s sacred summit. After 40 years of mismanagement, tell the State Land Board and the Legislature that enough is enough!

“The University’s lobbyists will say anything to get their way. I heard them tell Legislators they had community consent. I am from the community and tell you what, they have nothing of the sort.” — Kukauakahi Ching, Native Hawaiian Practitioner.

Our sacred summits — Mauna Kea and Haleakala — are protected by law as conservation districts. These are public trust ceded lands–Hawaiian lands–held by the state in trust for the people of Hawaii. Yet, today Mauna Kea’s public lands are exploited by foreign corporations and the University, who are profiting from telescope activities on the summit at the public’s expense.

“The rent from the foreign telescope-owners is 30 years past due–they have paid only $1 a year to misuse Mauna Kea. If the state had been collecting the $50 million dollars a year from these foreign telescope-owners, like we suggested to them years ago, we would not have these budget shortfalls now. Remember, $50 million in 1 year is $100 million in just 2 years. They owe the people of Hawaii for 30 years of back rent. How dare they suggest to short-change the taxpayers now.” –Kealoha Pisciotta, President Mauna Kea Anaina Hou.

Forty years of uncontrolled telescope construction has desecrated cultural sites, contaminated the ground above the primary aquifer, and destroyed 90% of the endemic Wekiu’s habitat. Today, developers are vying to build two new telescopes (along with roads, parking lots, office buildings, and gift shops) on undeveloped habitat around the summit area. One of them — owned by the California Thirty Meter Telescope Corporation — is larger than all the current telescopes combined and will bulldoze the last pristine peak near the summit.

The only thing stopping them is the law. That is why the University is working hard to overturn the laws that currently protect our sacred summits and limit telescope construction. Two courts of law and two state audits have already found that the telescope industry violated the state and federal laws meant to protect Mauna Kea. The only way their future telescope construction plans can go forward is for the University and the telescope developers to change and exempt themselves from these protective environmental laws.

This latest bid to take over Mauna Kea has two fronts:
1. Pressure the Land Board to adopt an illegitimate management plan that limits public access, dictates religious ceremony, and allows UH and telescope developers to pocket public money,
2. Lobby the Legislature to pass one of four bills that will hand-over authority for managing Mauna Kea to the primary developer of the summit, the University of Hawaii.

All of it comes down to the University’s same, long-sought goal: make it easier to exploit Mauna Kea for money. The latest proposal on the table would allow the University to restrict public access (including how and when Hawaiians may worship at the sacred summit), pocket all the money made on Mauna Kea, and exempt themselves from public oversight. This is a public policy and legal nightmare!

“The University wants to gate the road to Mauna Kea–the road was paid for by taxpayers, it’s a public road. The University wants to require Hawaiians to get a permit to worship–Mauna Kea belongs to Ke Akua, they cannot lock the people out of the temple. Even if Hawaiians could get a permit, it would mean they couldn’t bring their non-Hawaiian friends and ohana to ceremony. This is discrimination! Who is the University to say who can and cannot worship?” — Paul Neves, Alii Ai Moku, Royal Order of Kamehameha I.

Your voice can help preserve the sacred temple and delicate ecosystem of Mauna Kea. Take action now to tell the Legislature and the Land Board that Mauna Kea is still not for sale.

education or desecration, your pick?

Posted by kahea at Aug 11, 2008 05:58 PM |

“They’re forcing them to make a decision between education and desecration, and that’s not proper.” -Kealoha Pisciotta, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou

Giant Telescope Eyes Site on Mauna Kea, front page of the Sunday Advertiser, as Senator Inouye proposes undefined “scholarships for Native Hawaiians” as mitigation for a proposed new two-acre observatory facility on the last pristine plateau of Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea is both ecologically unique and culturally sacred, and we know that telescope operation and construction have already had a significant impact, and that the UH Institute for Astronomy (UHIFA) have not done an adequate job of protecting the natural and cultural resources of the summit over the last 30 years of telescope development. The UHIFA also pays only $1 in lease monies to the people of Hawai`i for their use of the summit.

  • In 1998, the Hawai’i State Auditor issued a report criticizing the UHIFA’s and BLNR’s management of Mauna Kea. The Auditor found that the UHIFA’s focus on telescope construction was “at the expense of neglecting the site’s natural resources.” Among the effects of the construction were: the damage or destruction of historic sites and Hawaiian family shrines; the destruction of the Wekiu Bug’s habitat; trash and construction debris left on the summit; and abandoned facilities and equipment.
  • A court-ordered EIS completed by NASA in February 2005 concluded of the telescopes: “From a cumulative perspective, the impact of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future activities on cultural and biological resources is substantial, adverse and significant…

NASA already offered $1.85 million towards Native Hawaiian causes, a gesture that Native Hawaiians noted did not address the actual desecration of the mountain. The UHIFA has continually ignored the call of hundreds of Hawaiian citizens to halt further exploitation and development of Mauna Kea’s summit, and to assess cumulative damage to cultural and environmental resources before proceeding with future development.

But an undefined amount in scholorships? Should totally smooth things over.

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