Civil Beat: Mauna Kea fight intertwines sovereignty and finding ways to right the current and historical wrongs
Chad Blair joined KITV4 for this week's Civil Beat segment talking about Mauna Kea -- the Tension over TMT.
Q: Chad, the issue on the mountain is at a standstill -- neither TMT nor demonstrators are negotiating. Your folks' latest story looks at what happens next.
A: On the surface, the dispute on Mauna Kea looks irreconcilable. One party, the protesters of protectors, is resolute in their determination to stop the telescope. Meanwhile, the supporters have spent nearly a decade fighting in court to get approval for the project.
There's been speculation that the state will either try to wait out the protesters or use law enforcement to try to clear the protesters. Our reporters decided to explore whether negotiations in Mauna Kea were actually possible and how you might bring people together to find a path forward to a resolution.
Q: Your reporters Stewart Yerton and Jim Simon spoke with experts who deal with resolving conflicts –- are negotiations possible? If so, how?
A: We don't know for sure if it is possible. But the experts say the key to getting negotiations started is to give protesters and other parts of the community a seat at the table and a real say in crafting potential solutions.
There needs to be a willingness to discuss the broader issues behind the protests, and a lot of patience — because there are no simple deals to be cut.
Q: This is a complex dispute. Demonstrators do not want any development on the mountain, they've said over and over it's not about a telescope it's about desecration. Some support TMT, just not on Mauna Kea. TMT has the green light for construction. We have yet to see both parties come to the table. Should they? Will they?
A: It's important to understand that the Mauna Kea fight is intertwined with so many broader issues — from sovereignty to finding ways to right the current and historical wrongs committed against Native Hawaiians. The mediators say any substantive talk will have address – not solve, but address --- those concerns.
But since the conflict is over lands considered sacred by many, that adds to the complexity. The lands can't be traded for something else, or compensated for.
Q: The state just extended TMT's construction permit an extra two years, demonstrators said they planned on taking a stand for a decade if need be. How long could this go on?
A: This has all the earmarks of being a long standoff. If the state tries to start construction -- even if it's a year from now -- it seems certain the protectors are capable of mobilizing. There's such a huge gulf between the two and the fight has gone on so long, some new strategies and thinking will definitely be needed to convince people to come to the table.