Many have gathered to protect the historic Mauna Kea summit (Big Island, Hawaii) against TMT Corporation building a telescope that measures 34,000 feet and 18 stories tall. Mauna Kea, or “White Mountain”, stands as the tallest of the Hawaiian chain of volcanic summits at 4205 meters above sea level and provides the Hawaiian people and tourists a place to gather in the snow as well as being a cornerstone to Hawaiian culture.
Mauna Kea has also been targeted by outside academists who’ve developed the world’s largest astronomical observatory on the summit peak. According to UH Institute for Astronomy website, the University of Hawaii has a lease from the State of Hawai’i “for the land above 3,700 meters elevation”, allowing the University to declare construction within that portion of land.
The protest to protect the sacred grounds has created hostility amongst the government, leading to the recent arrest of dozens of protesters for allegedly blocking the road and construction of the 1.4 billion dollar telescope investment. Students at the University of Hawaii campus have taken a stand against the academic institution, stating that “the University cannot be a place of Hawaiian education and Hawaiian learning, while also participating the desecration of Mauna Kea” (cite). Game of Thrones star and Hawaii Native Jason Momoa joined in on the protests demanding that the state and the University of Hawaii to stop the desecration of Mauna Kea.
According to oral storytelling, Mauna Kea is the home of Poli’ahu, the snow Goddess of Mauna Kea. “Poli`ahu, whose name means “Cloaked Bosom,” or “Temple Bosom,” is a legendary daughter of who dwells at the summit of Mauna Kea. It is Poli`ahu who spreads her beautiful white kapa across the summit of Mauna Kea in the winter, and adorns the mountain with her pink and gold cloak in the summer. She is the goddess of Mauna o Wakea (today often called Mauna Kea), snow, ice, and cold” (cite)). The construction was scheduled to start during Makahiki, a time of peace when cultural practitioners would be unable to block access. Serendipitously Poliʻahu dumped so much snow on Mauna Kea that construction was delayed until after the closing of Makahiki (cite).
The protest for protecting Mauna Kea is more than a movement for land preservation but should be treated as a push for cultural preservation. TWID stands in unity with Mauna Kea – we are Hawaii, we are one.
For more information on how to get involved in Project Mauna Kea, please visit their Official Facebook Page.