Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano with a peak of 4207m (13.803ft above sea level), making it the highest point in the state of Hawaii. It’s a sacred place for Native Hawaiians, and it is being threatened by the construction of something called the Thirty Meter Telescope.
This project was something that scientists insisted on building even if the land was sacred because of the location. It would allow scientists to get a good look at outer space as well as likely to find new discoveries. They also believe that this would bring Hawaii a so-called economic blessing by bringing 140 high paying engineering and tech jobs.
There are already 13 telescopes on the mountaintop, but they have brought less of an economic boom than expected. This causes Hawaiians to resent the existing telescopes and resist the construction of a new one, especially on land considered sacred.
Locals and Native Hawaiians have also been protesting from the other islands. Holding signs and holding the Hawaiian flag upside down, which shows a sign of distress for the state. I have witnessed it first hand, with people stopping in the middle of the freeway to shout “ku kia’i mauna” meaning “protect Mauna.”
As a local my thought on this was believing that they are just spending and wasting our money on something that they promise is going to bring in more money. They have said that about the transit rail that was supposed to be built and finished in 2018, but is not yet finished and is only costing billions of dollars more than predicted.
Even if I don’t have Native Hawaiian blood, I choose to support those who are fighting to stop the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. There are many Native Hawaiian community members and Kapuna (elders) staying on the summit to block the roads from the construction workers from starting this project. Celebrities protesting the build include Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Jason Momoa. Massachusett’s own Elizabeth Warren also opposes the telescope.