PBS covers conflict over Mauna Kea
HILO » The conflict between spirituality and astronomy will be highlighted in an upcoming PBS program featuring Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in Hawaii.
The 13,796-foot mountain is one of the most significant lands of the former Hawaiian Kingdom, a place that should be treated with reverence, said producer Puhipau.
"Mauna Kea is first born of cosmic forces, connecting Hawaiians to the beginning of time," he said. But astronomers regard Mauna Kea as one of the best places in the world to view the stars.
The show, titled "Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege," airs at 8 p.m. July 13 on PBS Hawaii's production "Pacific Showcase."
Many native Hawaiians would prefer that there was no development at all on the mountain's summit, said Hanalei Fergerstrom, a practitioner of Native Hawaiian religion.
"I imagine we can coexist if communication was better," said Fergerstrom, who wants astronomers to be asked to leave the mountain when their leases expire.
But Paul Coleman, a native Hawaiian with a doctorate in astronomy, said Hawaiian tradition and science can complement each other at Mauna Kea. "As a scientist and a native Hawaiian, I can look at astronomy on Mauna Kea with a unique point of view," Coleman said. "No one is making money up there. ... Rather, people are attempting to answer fundamental questions that will help us understand our place in the universe."