Don’t put huge telescope on sacred Mauna Kea
For many years at public hearings, including a contested case relating to telescopes on Mauna Kea, public sentiment, especially Hawaiian, has been against any additional development on our sacred mountain. It is appalling that these past 30 years the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the University of Hawaii system and astronomers have been irresponsible in allowing the desecration and pollution to occur on the summit of Mauna Kea, and the courts have agreed. Sen. Daniel Inouye insists that we must now allow a new "30-Meter Telescope (TMT), a billion-dollar project, to proceed in spite of community concern about expanding developmental foot prints. TMT will be housed in a structure the size of a football stadium. The good senator is trying to buy the Hawaiian community off by offering UH tuition scholarships in exchange for allowing more desecration with this humongous TMT plan.
After 30 years this state has still not developed a comprehensive management plan for Mauna Kea. Shouldn't this have been done first, or is there method to the malfeasance? Surely a general plan is essential today before any expansion (especially one so vast) is even entertained.
We Hawaiians and the Hawaiian Studies Department should not be bribed with UH scholarships in exchange for the telescope, nor should we be financially intimidated. Hawaiians are already owed these tuition waivers, now. Several months ago Dr. Seiji Naya, professor emeritus of UH economics, made a presentation of a study he did in 2007 for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on "Hawaiians and Poverty." Naya stated that Hawaiians need higher education in order to escape poverty.
I pointed out that the university campuses and community colleges are built on Hawaiian ceded lands for which no rent is being paid (to the Hawaiian people) and that every Hawaiian should be able to get tuition waivers. Chancellor Rose Tseng of UH-Hilo, who was in the audience at that meeting, stated that any Hawaiian who desires should be able to attend UH free. It is she who made the recommendation along with Inouye for these tuition waivers as a carrot for consent to build this gigantic new telescope.
Sacred Mauna Kea also is on Hawaiian ceded lands. A dollar a year is all that is being paid for rent for use of Mauna Kea at this time, this while foreign governments must pay millions in operating costs for their observatories. A debt is owed to the Hawaiian people for the use of these ceded lands by UH for the campus sites and the use of Mauna Kea for the observatories. Tuition waivers would be fair without Inouye's TMT project.
No more telescopes on Mauna Kea, enough is enough!
Moanikeala Akaka was an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee from 1984-96.