News, updates, finds, and stories from staff and community members at KAHEA.
Showing blog entries tagged as: mauna kea

News, updates, finds, stories, and tidbits from staff and community members at KAHEA. Got something to share? Email us at:

Self-audit = No kind of audit at all

Self-audit = No kind of audit at all

Posted by Miwa at Apr 30, 2010 11:45 PM |

University of Hawai'i administration dodges a public audit. What does it take to get some independent oversight around here?

Read More…

Kāhea for Mauna Kea

Interviews with Debbie Ward and Kealoha Pisciotta, two members of the Mauna Kea Hui, with the call to stop desecration and destruction of sacred sites and unique native habitat on Mauna Kea’s summit. We know that artificially low rent–of $1/year–paid by some of the wealthiest institutions and corporations in the world is accelerating industrialization of the summit, in the middle of a state financial crisis.  Mahalo to these two amazing women, and to Pono, with aloha.

You can support the Mauna Kea legislative resolutions calling for a financial audit in support of fair market rent on Mauna Kea, and a stop to further desecration on the sacred summit by submitting testimony at:

LTE from Honolulu Advertiser

Posted by Miwa at Mar 23, 2010 08:16 PM |

Mahalo to Nancy for the following letter in the Honolulu Advertiser a few days ago:

I was struck by the brilliance of a campaign that came through my e-mail this past week. It provides a fresh look at solutions to Hawai’i's budget shortfalls; ideas that have yet to be considered and answers that have been hidden in plain sight.

The campaign calls for fair rents to be paid by the multitude of space entrepreneurs at the current and future laboratory sites on Mauna Kea. These areas, estimated at $50 million worth of rent fees, are going for one penny a year.

Long ago I researched the $1 lease made with the Army to use Mākua Valley for live fire and other training. (The original agreement was to return the land at the close of WWII.)

How many other sweet deals have been made that could be bringing in much-needed revenues so that our children, the most needy and fragile, don’t take any more hits?

Nancy Aleck

Hawaiians, mountain in 'Avatar'-like struggle

From Marti:

Great editorial in the Sacramento Bee yesterday about the analogies between the struggle depicted in the movie Avatar and the real world struggle to protect the last pristine plateau of Mauna Kea. Here’s a quote:

The California astronomers’ “unobtanium” quest – research papers revealing “the secrets of the universe” and identifying planets beyond our solar system – is certainly more noble than mining minerals, but it’s another example of promoting one culture’s notion of progress by overriding another’s reverence for the land. As in the movie, behind the Mauna Kea invaders stands the big money of a starry-eyed entrepreneur, Intel co-founder and telescope donor Gordon Moore.

Particularly rich was the comment posted by Richard Ha about the importance of process. Totally agree, Uncle, which is why we oppose a plan to manage the summit conservation district that is written by the lead-developer of the summit.  Just as one example, the plan puts no limit on the number of telescopes that could be built on the summit.

This is not surprising.  For decades, the University of Hawaii has promised to better protect the natural and cultural resources of the summit while actively destroying them.  This TMT+CMP combo is just the latest example.

No Property, No Say, and No Plan

Posted by Miwa at Feb 19, 2010 03:30 AM |

From Miwa:

Back in January, we posted here about some disappointing news: the denial by the Hawai’i State Board of Land and Natural Resources (Land Board) and Judge Hara (3rd Circuit) of our right to a administrative review (contested case) on UH’s new “management plan” for Mauna Kea. We have now waded through the findings from the Judge, and here’s the story:

One cloudy Thursday afternoon, the Land Board voted to approve a UH’s proposed “management plan” for the conservation district on the summit of Mauna Kea. At the hearing, KAHEA, along with a group of long-time advocates, Native Hawaiians with ancestral ties to the mountain and conservationists (including Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, and Uncle Kukauakahi Ching) requested a “contested case” hearing, a common practice in Hawaiʻi.

A Simple Request: Hold a Hearing
As many of you know: For 40 years, the summit conservation district has been the focus of a contentious struggle over the expanding footprint of an industrial park for telescopes within its boundaries. Approval of this plan, written by the lead developer–the University of Hawai’i–would pave the way for the largest expansion of industrial land use on the summit in nearly a decade, a telescope complex larger than a modern sports stadium, the TMT.

The contested case hearing is part of a time-honored process designed to protect the rights of those affected by state agency decisions, allowing us to formally present evidence of how the plan would impact access, traditional use, cultural practice and natural resources on the mountain. Through the hearing process, we would be allowed to make our case for adopting a conservation plan in compliance with state laws governing the summit conservation district, in place of the development plan written by the lead developer.

Despite the fact that we have had contested case hearings in the past, in a surprise move, the Board denied our request.

No Property, No Say, and No Plan
The Land Board denied our right to a hearing, based on a claim that our group does not have a “property interest”–flying in the face of decades of law affirming Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights and the right to a healthy environment. The unexpected decision instead championed a dangerous new model for rights on public lands:  No property, no say.

“No property, no say” is a dangerous new tactic that the summit developers and the Land Board are hot to pursue. Why? Because detrimental (but profitable!) activities in conservation districts are easier to push through if no one can challenge them. There are legal rights to cultural practice, public access, and a healthy environment in Hawai‘i. But “no property, no say” makes it difficult or impossible for many to assert or uphold those rights.

The Land Board also asserted that “the plan is a plan but is not a plan.” (Yeah. Makes no sense to us, either.)  In the UH Plan, an unlimited number of telescopes, roads, office buildings, parking lots and other structures may or may not be built at an undetermined date in the future. The Land Board is claiming that because the UH plan is so vague, it can’t possibly affect anyone. Since no one is affected, no one gets a contested case. One judge (Judge Hara), agreed.

BUT by approving the plan, the Board has ensured that almost any future action to expand industrial land use in the summit conservation district will be “consistent” with the approved plan. We believe this action impacts us–and the future of Mauna Kea’s conservation district–big time.

No Property, No Say and No Plan? We believe this is a really, erm… crappy way to do decision-making and planning on the future of important conservation lands in Hawai’i. And we’re going to fight it.

The Road Ahead
We are again appealing, this time to the intermediate court of appeals. The outcome of this case will set the stage for how decisions are made on conservation lands in Hawai’i for decades to come. Throughout Hawai’i, approximately 2 million acres of land fall within conservation districts like the one on Mauna Kea.

We are facing well-funded developers from some of the world’s wealthiest nations, and some of the highest paid attorneys in Hawai‘i. Yet, we also are building on over 15 years of successful advocacy, closer than ever to realizing our vision of a better future for this incredible summit–where native habitat and cultural sites can be restored, and species brought back from the edge of extinction.

Your Kōkua Needed!
At stake is not just the future of Mauna Kea, but the future of community voices and the fate of unique and fragile forests, shorelines, summits and waters throughout Hawai’i.

We are committed to fighting this dangerous new paradigm all the way to the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court, if that’s what it takes. We hope you–and so many like you, who understand what is at stake–will walk with us on journey forward.

We are currently working to raise $10,000 in legal fees. We are a little over 1/4 of the way there. If you’d like to contribute, click here to make a secure, easy contribution online. You can also send your gift to: KAHEA, PO Box 37368, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96837.

We will continue to update you on the latest for the sacred summit, and opportunities to get involved, participate, and kōkua.

*The plaintiffs — Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Sierra Club, KAHEA, and Clarence Kukauakahi Ching –express our deepest thanks to you for your support and for making a difference! MAHALO!

Happy New Year, Love Judge Hara.

Posted by Miwa at Jan 18, 2010 05:59 PM |
Filed under:

On New Year’s Eve, we got word from Judge Hara (3rd Circuit), that he would uphold the August 2009 decision of the Hawai’i Land Board (Board of Land and Natural Resources) to deny the Mauna Kea Hui their “day in court.” The hui–made up of conservation and cultural rights advocates–has been the long-time defender of protections for Mauna Kea’s unique and sacred summit.

We asked for an administrative review of UH’s new development plan for the mountain; BLNR and Judge Hara have now both said “no.” We’re still reading through the findings, wading through the legal language and figuring out what it all means for the future of the mountain. We’ll keep you updated and let you know what we come out with.

Our deepest thanks goes out to all the long-time supporters of Mauna Kea. Mahalo for your aloha ‘aina.

This year, we will continue to work for a community plan which sets forward a truly new paradigm for managing cultural and natural resources of the summit and governing future telescope development. The struggle is not over!

Point Missed

From Marti:

News coverage of the court hearing on the University’s plans for Mauna Kea characterized our opposition to the plan as anti-development.  It said:

“(opponents) want to block new development on the mountain by stopping approval of the management plan.”

As one of our kupuna pointed out, actually the motivation is all the University’s part.  She said

“advocates for more telescopes on the summit want the UH CMP rushed to completion in order to move forward with several new development plans.”

While it is true that as long as there is no plan there is no TMT, that is not the desired outcome for the plan.  We’re not trying to block the plan to stop TMT.

What we do want is the opportunity to have a real plan–one that arises out of a transparent process and allows communities to articulate a public vision for the future of these extremely important public trust lands. That is what a public planning process is supposed to do. The point is that we have been denied the kind of critical, public and open discussion that would lead to such a plan. In its place, we are being told to shut up and accept a plan that was written by the university and driven by its interest in telescope development and telescope dollars.

We have long said that we want a fair opportunity to talk through and determine together how astronomy and cultural practice and natural conservation coexist–in what form, by what rules, and with what limits–on the summit. This is not an unreasonable ask. The University is wasting precious public education dollars on motion after motion in this case, because they are unwilling to compromise in any way on their development plans. For the University, this case is all about TMT. For advocates of the mountain, this case is not about TMT at all. It is about our standing, and the right of the people of Hawai’i to determine the future of a unique, irreplaceable summit that is part of Hawai’i's public trust.

Click here to read the article from the Hawaii Tribune Herald.

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