Regents delay action on new Maunakea proposal

  • CHUN

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents voted Thursday to postpone discussion of a new internal management structure for Maunakea governance until June.

At Thursday’s Board of Regents Meeting, Greg Chun, UH executive director of Maunakea stewardship, made a short presentation about a proposed new management model for the university’s Maunakea governing bodies.

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The proposed plan would combine the university’s current Maunakea governing agencies — the Office of Maunakea Management and Maunakea Support Services — into a single entity called the Center for Maunakea Stewardship.

Chun said the proposed plan will help address criticism of the current governing model, in particular questions of jurisdiction.

Because OMKM and MKSS both answer to different UH campuses — OMKM reports to the chancellor of UH-Hilo, while MKSS answers to the provost of UH-Manoa — governance of the UH-managed lands on Maunakea can be inefficient, with a confusing command structure, Chun said.

“It’s important to make our own house work as efficiently as possible,” Chun said.

The proposed new model comes in accordance with a resolution the Board of Regents passed last year. One of the terms of that resolution required the board to discuss such a reorganization of the university’s management of the mountain.

Chun emphasized on Thursday that the proposed plan is entirely separate from another item included in last year’s resolution: consideration of wholly different governance models of Maunakea that could shift management of the mountain away from UH entirely.

Because the Board of Regents does not have authority to implement such sweeping changes to the mountain’s management, such models were not discussed Thursday.

Two people testified against the proposed restructuring plan, arguing that any discussion of how the mountain is managed should include members of the Hawaiian community.

Regent Alapaki Nahale-a agreed to an extent, saying that the complaints about the proposal have not been concerned with its content, but instead were about a perceived lack of communication between the university and Native Hawaiian voices.

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“I’m confident in the new structure,” Nahale-a said. “But the new structure won’t help if those connections aren’t improved.”

The board deferred action on the proposed new model until the board’s next meeting in June.

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