Indigenous Hawaiians seek to save Mauna Kea from desecration

Mauna Kea advocates are seeking justice in Hawaii courts. Six plaintiffs have filed a notice of appeal in circuit court challenging the board of Land and Natural Resources’ (BLNR) on the April 12th decision by Judge Greg Nakamura to grant the University of Hawaii at Hilo a permit to construct the world’s second largest telescope, the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), atop Mauna Kea. The permit would allow the TMT Corporation to break ground and construct the eighteen-story high TMT observatory on undeveloped and pristine lands within the Mauna Kea conservation district. 

Plaintiffs represented themselves during the contested case hearings before the BLNR. Now, Mr. Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman, a Native Hawaiian attorney based in Honolulu, will be representing them on appeal to the state circuit court.

Kealoha Pisciotta, President of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, a native Hawaiian organization dedicated to protecting and preserving Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices of Mauna Kea stated, “The questions before the court, in short, are whether BLNR rules permit more development, and particularly development that has an adverse and significant impact on the land and waters of Mauna Kea.”

E. Kalani Flores commented “It is unfortunate when public citizens are forced to go through court proceedings when developments such as the TMT Project are systematically granted permits by the BLNR despite these projects not meeting the criteria as outlined in Hawaii State law. How can the proposed TMT Observatory that would be over 18-stories high and be the tallest building on a Hawaiian Island satisfy the criteria? It can’t! We must proceed ahead and be idle no more. Mauna a Wakea is still sacred.”

Kumu hula Paul Neves, stated “We continue to educate Hawaii’s people and the public abroad, that Mauna Kea is not just a high-elevation place on earth, it is most sacred of places. Our case is about the necessity of having respect for Hawaiian spirituality…that spirituality is the cornerstone of the Hawaiian way. We cannot just speak of practice – we must continue to practice if we are to continue to exist”

Elder Pua Case spoke of a culturally relevant venture that is also an extraordinary undertaking. “What we have done was launch Hokule a, the double hull canoe to begin a four year journey around the world this past Saturday. On board the lead canoe, Hokule’a, is a pohaku, a rock from the top of Mauna Kea mountain – which asked to go on the voyage. It will be the beacon of strength, it will lead them to all parts of the world and bring them back again… Eo!”

Buying a traditional shawl for $25 can support fundraising for the defense of Mauna Kea. Order by emailing or check out the Pua Case or Mauna Kea Shawls facebook pages. See a traditional story/teaching about Mauna Kea, compliments and thanks to elder Pua Case, titled “A story of Mauna Wakea” on our website at It can also be supported by purchasing a song on I-tunes by Hawane titled Poli’ahu I Ke Kapu for as little as 99 cents.

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