Imua TMT hosts panel discussion after Mauna Kea visit
As protectors continue their stand on Mauna Kea, one group of Native Hawaiians say they've been left without a voice.
"I showed up when I saw the protests because people were speaking out for Native Hawaiians and this whole story was like 'Oh Native Hawaiians are angry' and I was like last time I checked I was Native Hawaiian and I think this is awesome," Sam King of Imua TMT said.
The group Imua TMT hosted their own panel today, an all-Hawaiian panel including the first Director of Mauna Kea management to an astrophysicist talking about their support for the project.
"It just blows my mind that a project wants to come here and they want to invest in our future," one TMT supporter said.
However, things got heated when TMT opponents started asking questions.
"Money, money, money that's what you like. It's our kuleana to protect what we have left," one TMT opponent said.
The panel acknowledged the wrongs that happened throughout Hawaii's history, but argued that the telescope is a way forward.
"We're dealt a certain set of cards. How can we play those cards to the best of our advantage," one TMT supporter said.
"We're not just talking about annexing one state to another, one country to another, we're talking about universal knowledge that's useful to everyone and everyone will be grateful to Hawaii for having expanded their knowledge," Judge Heen said.
Native Hawaiians against the telescope say the panel doesn't represent them.
"Yes we are ethnically Hawaiian but culturally and emotionally and spiritually we are different," Kumu Hina said. "Maybe there's hope for them that they would take the journey with us one day but until then they will stand in support of what they support and we will stand in support of protecting Mauna Kea."
A panel discussion will be held Friday afternoon at the Hawaii State Capitol. It's hosted by Imua TMT, a group that supports the project.
Some of the panelists in Friday's discussion camped out at Mauna Kea and spoke with numerous kia'i or protectors of the mountain and one of them is Makana Silva. He sat down with Good Morning Hawaii for a Q & A on the event.
Q: You spoke with protectors on the mountain, what did you learned from that experience?
A: We learned that there is a connection that deeply rooted in spiritual and emotional essence. That some kiai, such as Aunty Pua Kanahele, have genealogical ties to Maunakea and that they see this as a member of their mookuauhau. While on Hawaii Island, we got the honor to go to Mo?okini Heiau and to the summit of the Mauna. At the summit, we got to go into some of the telescopes and meet some of the local people from Waimea, Hilo, Keaukaha, etc. who work in the telescopes. We also journeyed with Wally Ishibashi who told us in "which direction" to walk from CSO to get to Lake Waiau. All this in addition with staying at the Access Road really instilled in me that this telescope really is in line with my Hawaiian Identity. I can stand for this because I truly believe this is a way to perpetuate our culture through the contributions that can be made in the scientific field via TMT.
Q: As a native Hawaiian astrophysics student, what has the experience been like for you since protests started? Do you sense there's a divide between you and other native Hawaiians who are against the project?
A: For me, I have definitely felt a divide amongst my community and relationships at all levels. I have had some very important people in my life question why I stand for this and some even question how can I call myself a Hawaiian for supporting this. Statements like this hurt no matter who they come from but regardless of them, I still stand by my decision not because I am an astrophysicists, but it is my naau and my life journey that gives me the courage and confidence to stand for this decision.
Q: It's been more than two months since the protests started, and both sides have met - government officials have met - is there a way for both sides can come together?
A: I believe if we want to look toward a compromise/resolution, everyone involved in this topic would have to come together and have a kukakuka session and remove the social media attacks and what not as being the current avenue of discussions.
The panel will begin at noon at the State Capitol's auditorium.