`Ano`ai kakou… For the past several months, there has been a tremendous focus on Mauna Kea. OHA, as a Hawaiian agency created to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians, is tasked with administering ceded land revenues to address this mandate.
Because of this responsibility, OHA is frequently asked by the state agencies such as the University of Hawaii (UH), nonprofits, and even private entities to comment, help, or, in some cases, take legal action on issues important to Native Hawaiians.
Hawaiians are not against science
Today, Mauna Kea is an issue that has gone global with Hollywood celebrities joining the protest to stop the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) at the summit. The Star Advertiser says OHA lacks leadership because we are not telling Hawaiians to stand down because the state needs revenue and everyone benefits from science. They also feel we need to stand by our previous decision. The newspaper needs to do their homework before making blanket statements.
Six years ago, the majority of the Board of Trustees accepted Mauna Kea as the sight for the TMT. OHA also weighed in on a contested case hearing asking UH and the Mauna Kea Management planners to force them to do an Environmental Impact Statement and ensure they do what was necessary to culturally protect the site for future generations.
OHA lost the lawsuit and, when approached again last year, the Board took no action for many reasons. The most critical being we no longer had standing to sue since we lost the first case and two Native Hawaiian workers on the Big Island testified that they needed the jobs the telescope construction would provide.
The real problem
The bigger issue here is UH and the state legislature. The state has been a poor trustee of our ceded lands. They are leasing our lands for only a $1 per year and it allows UH to sublease the lands for millions, perhaps billions of dollars. Why isn’t UH making the builders of the telescope give something back to our community for the desecration of our sacred mountain? Why isn’t UH requiring the builders to clean-up their mess and take down their telescopes that aren’t operational?
Where is all of this money going? Is it really going to science? Has the state ever conducted an audit of the University to verify where all of the millions generated on Mauna Kea each year are truly going? UH is frequently complaining they are broke. Where is the accountability? Revenues generated on Mauna Kea are both Hawaiian and taxpayer monies and yet who really knows how the dollars are being spent?
The state and the legislature needs to revisit the autonomy that they have given to the UH and pull back that power. UH should not have the power, in the name of science, to do anything they want with our aina.
Hawaiians are concerned about access to worship afforded to them by the PASH Law.
UH does not own the mountain and the state should make them return it to the people of Hawaii in the same pristine condition it was in when they took it from us.