The Big Island is a community of approximately 200,983 men, women, and children of multiple ethnicities. It is important that all people are respected for their diverse roles and ideas to live peacefully and purposefully in this island community.
Therefore, it is important to achieve a win-win solution to the TMT situation on Maunakea as soon as possible. I have respect for the Hawaiian culture and people and I also have respect and appreciation for the scientific, educational, and business community — but it is not one or the other.
I am a sixth-generation resident of Hawaii so I have seen a lot of changes, but even if I don’t care for all the changes I cannot turn back the clock to that simpler time. Regarding the current TMT situation it appears as though those protectors who see TMT as desecrating a sacred mountain would like to turn back the clock. But just how far would you like to go?
I read that “In pre-contact times individuals likely took trips up Maunakea’s slopes to visit family maintained shrines near its summit … however very few natives reached the summit because of the strict kapu placed on it.” Furthermore “Maunakea being the tallest is most sacred — for this reason a kapu restricted the visitor rights to highest ranking alii.”
Currently anyone can pursue cultural practices on this massive mountain, and can even walk to the actual summit. I also read that “it has been suggested that certain shrines which are arranged around the volcanoes summit along what may have been an ancient snow line are markers for the transition to the ‘sacred part’ of Maunakea.”
What I suggest is that this very massive and beautiful mountain has a distinct and scared summit which might be at the top of the puu adjacent to the UH telescope. Perhaps a solution would be to designate this actual summit area including the entire puu/cinder cone to be off limits to any person other than persons engaged in serious Hawaiian cultural practices. The site for the TMT is well away from this actual summit.
I also believe that there has been significant mismanagement of the Maunakea mountain and that has to be addressed ASAP. Start with a time table to remove as many of the decommissioned facilities as quick as possible, with specific monetary fines for any delays. Perhaps the fines could be paid by UH as they seem to be the managers that did not do their job. No excuses for environmental impact statement delays as I am sure they could be fast tracked by the state if necessary.
I think it would be important in the interest of mutual respect that astronomy representatives get together with Hawaiian community representatives to possibly see how a joint educational venture could be created to demonstrate the connection between astronomy and Hawaiian practices in navigation, etc.
I do believe that through mutual respect and understanding a meaningful relationship can be achieved. Remember that there are 200,000 members of this Big Island Community who want to live here peacefully and meaningfully with opportunities to learn and work in a great environment. We are counting on some enlightened minds coming together to forge a win-win solution for all.
Peter Boynton is a resident of Kailua-Kona.