Poll shows strong public support for Thirty Meter Telescope

  • An artist’s rendition of the side view of the Thirty Meter Telescope complex. (Courtesy image/Special to West Hawaii Today)

HONOLULU — Public support for the stalled $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project has never been stronger, according to a newspaper poll.

The poll commissioned earlier this month by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser asked 800 randomly selected registered voters across the state if they support or oppose the construction of the telescope on Maunakea.

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About 77 percent of the respondents said they support it, while 15 percent oppose it and 8 percent were undecided.

The poll found that support has especially grown among Hawaii natives. About 72 percent of native respondents supported the telescope in the latest poll. Two years ago the native approval was only 39 percent.

“People are starting to realize this opportunity is once in a lifetime. We can’t afford to give it away,” said Richard Ha, director of Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, a Hawaii native nonprofit that formed to help support the telescope.

Others, however, said the poll results were a surprise.

Kailua resident and Hawaii native Kawika Villa, 39, who participated in the poll, said he was surprised to hear so many natives supported the telescope.

“I don’t know any Hawaiians who support it,” he said.

Villa said he opposes the project for cultural reasons and because he doesn’t like the way the University of Hawaii has managed the summit of Hawaii’s tallest mountain, among other things.

“I know that in order to gain favor and approval, a lot of money has been spent to persuade people to back the TMT and to be happy it’s going to be here,” he said. “A lot of people supported rail when it started, but now they see what’s happening.”

The state Supreme Court is currently weighing two appeals regarding the telescope, one challenging the project’s sublease and the other a conservation district use permit.

Oral arguments were heard on the sublease issue last week, while written briefs and responses are still being submitted in the other case.

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If the court grants either appeal, the project could be switched to its backup site in the Canary Islands.

Conducted March 13-18 by Mason-Dixon Polling &Strategy of Washington, D.C., the poll asked 800 randomly selected registered voters. The margin of error is 3.5 percent either way.

  1. Aku March 26, 2018 12:39 pm

    So glad to see some feedback on what I have encountered all over the island from people. Build the TMT and continue to discover the heavens above. It is such an honor and such a prize for Hawaii. Especially considering that both King Kamehameha and Prince Kuhio wanted telescopes here.


  2. roverhi March 26, 2018 12:56 pm

    Interesting that the article is about how people are backing the telescope by an overwhelming majority yet you only interview a negative individual. Are they your local go to Monarchy advocate who can be counted on to be against anything that’s happened since the end of the 19th century. Or is it just the politics of division trying to balkanize us into smaller and smaller boxes


  3. Max Kona March 26, 2018 1:21 pm

    Are these the same polls that said Hillary was going to win ? 😂😂😂😂


  4. sonneofmanisrael March 26, 2018 2:05 pm

    Local Hawaiian people are to have no say. There’s money for politicians involved.


  5. Paul J Endresen March 26, 2018 5:37 pm

    Please educate the public regarding random sampling methods in-order-to discourage suspicions and bias.


  6. RKimo March 27, 2018 11:05 am

    “It will afford me unfeigned satisfaction if my kingdom can add its quota toward the successful accomplishment of the most important astronomical observation of the present century…”
    —King David Kalākaua
    A DIRECT Quote from the last King of Hawai’i. He must have been a bad Hawaiian to think this way because it is definitely NOT in line with the few that want to crush exploration and progress.


    1. diverdave March 27, 2018 12:23 pm

      Great quote Kimo, from the voices of the past comes the truth.
      These radical political activists against the TMT have never picked up a book in the library and read the history written at the time. They are a direct result of being force fed lies, half truths, and made up stories in Hawaiian Immersion Schools. They are taught to hate anything from the State and Federal Government. So sad this is allowed to be.


      1. RKimo March 29, 2018 9:59 am

        The DOE is Garbage. I know plenty of adults that cannot even read much less do simple math all compliments of the Hawaii DOE. The other problem is that education and higher education is not valued in many parts of local society. People stay stupid and ignorant.


  7. Joe Joe March 27, 2018 1:41 pm

    This telescope will be obsolete in 2 years ! There science admits satellites like hubble are more effective. This would be a Hawaii plunder!


    1. RKimo March 29, 2018 10:02 am

      You are so far off base. You have NO idea what you are talking about. You are joking right? Oh wait let me guess.. Someone TOLD you it would be obsolete. Keck is how old? Is Keck obsolete? Idiot


      1. Joe Joe March 29, 2018 11:27 am

        Compared to Hubble yes obsolete ! Haha triggered snowflake


        1. RKimo March 30, 2018 8:49 am

          You’re just stupid. TMT will be 10x more powerful than Hubble joey


          1. Joe Joe April 2, 2018 3:43 pm

            Hahaha lmao


          2. Joe Joe April 2, 2018 3:45 pm

            Keep putting your blinders on while we all drive around hundred year old technology . Wake up !


          3. Joe Joe April 11, 2018 12:37 pm

            Ha James Webb telescope 100x more powerful 😂😂😂 then TMT . Thanks for helping my argument !


          4. RKimo April 13, 2018 3:16 pm

            wrong again joey


          5. Joe Joe April 19, 2018 12:37 pm

            Is that so ?


  8. sunshineguy March 30, 2018 4:31 am

    It is not just Hawaii. The world is patiently waiting on this project. Time to give the Canary Islands a shot before another building season passes.


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