UPDATE: TMT construction to begin this summer; ahu removed from site

  • Tribune-Herald file photo Protesters walk toward an ahu they built along the Thirty Meter Telescope access road in this June 23, 2015, photo. Bones were placed on a separate ahu not shown here on the TMT site.
  • An ahu built by opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope sits on a road to the TMT site on Maunakea. The W.M. Keck and Subaru observatories are seen on a pu'u in the background. (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald file photo)

UPDATE: Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope will begin this summer after the Department of Land and Natural Resources issued a notice to proceed yesterday.

Gov. David Ige confirmed at a press conference in Honolulu that construction will begin at an unconfirmed date later this year, and that four unauthorized structures have been removed from Maunakea in order to ensure the safety and security of those involved in construction.

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The four structures include Hale o Kukiaimauna and Hale o Kuhio, which were confirmed dismantled this morning, and two ahu built at the TMT site. The ahu had previously had iwi interred within them by a man who claimed he did so at the request of TMT opponents in order to stall construction, according to a DLNR report.

Attorney General Clare Connors said the ahu were determined to not bear any traditional significance and had to be removed in order to begin construction. The two other structures were removed because they were unauthorized and represented a possible obstacle to construction crews.

The materials of the dismantled structures can be claimed as property and relinquished to owners, Connors said.

Connors and Ige sympathized with opponents of the telescope, and said the state will continue to respect cultural practitioners’ rights to visit the mountain legally as well as their right to legally protest against the construction. However, Connors urged protesters to “have that conversation” somewhere other than on Maunakea for safety reasons.

Ige said public access to the summit will continue, but may be periodically interrupted by construction developments.

While Connors said the state will try to keep the public abreast of construction plans, she did not confirm whether the start date will be released to the public.

PREVIOUSLY:

Authorities removed two structures built by Hawaiian activists on Maunakea this morning as Gov. David Ige prepares to make an announcement about state permitting of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

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Officers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources reportedly arrived at 4 a.m. and dismantled two structures near the Maunakea Visitor Information Station and on the Maunakea Access Road.

The first structure, Hale o Kukiaimauna, was built in 2015 during the Thirty Meter Telescope protests. The second, Hale o Kuhio, was built last year as a “safety checkpoint” in protest of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

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