Mayor Harry Kim said today that he hopes to meet with Hawaiian community leaders, including those leading the protests at Maunakea, before the end of the week.
Kim, who was asked by Gov. David Ige on Tuesday to coordinate between the state and the protesters in an effort to reach common ground, said he knows no solution to the Thirty Meter Telescope controversy can please everyone, but added that nobody, regardless of their stance on the issue, wants the situation to become more polarized than it already is.
“Right now, lines have been drawn, and I hate that lines have been drawn,” Kim said. “Right now, we have to step over those lines so we can come together.”
Kim said Ige did not give him a deadline for when a solution needs to be reached. However, Kim said he has set his own deadline: as soon as possible.
“When Ige told me what he would ask of me, I’m the one who said, ‘What, now?’” Kim said. “I wish he asked me sooner.”
Kim said he will meet with law enforcement leaders later today to discuss the matter with them.
The protesters have been very clear that they will not move so long as the state intends to build TMT on Maunakea.
“If (TMT) leaves us, there will be a sadness,” Kim said, but he added that if TMT cannot be built on the Big Island, then that will reflect how badly the state has wronged the Hawaiian people.
“We have made the Hawaiians feel like strangers in their own land,” Kim said. “A lot of people are up there now because it makes them feel proud to be Hawaiian.”
Kim said he has always wanted Hawaii Island to not be as dependent on the resort industry as Oahu, Kauai and Maui — an island “where you can’t afford to live,” he said.
“I thought science would be a way to help us not be so reliant on the resort industry,” Kim said.
Should the telescope not be built on the Big Island, Kim said the island will lose a tool that will help protect the island’s lifestyle. However, he said that he does not want the Hawaiian community to continue to feel disenfranchised.
“We all need to come together to make this a nice place to live,” Kim said.
The protest continues today at the Maunakea Access Road, but international attention to the movement attracted movie superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the site Wednesday.
Johnson, who grew up on Oahu, surprised protesters when he arrived shortly before noon and met with kupuna and protest leaders. He did not announce on social media that he would be visiting the site, so his appearance was a surprise to the hundreds of people near the access road.