Hawaiians continue to protest solar telescope on Haleakala

Valerie Monson at the Maui News reports on the latest hearing regarding a proposed solar telescope on the summit of Haleakala:
Hawaiian voices were unanimous Monday night in opposing the National Science Foundation's plan for an enormous telescope atop Haleakala, but it turns out that even the most united effort might not be able to stop the project.

"Normally, I say 'aloha,' but tonight I think it died," said Tim Bailey, whose job is caring for the resources at Haleakala National Park.

Just minutes earlier, the audience at the Paukukalo Community Center had learned that all its testimony protesting the proposed 14-story-tall telescope at the summit of the mountain might not make a difference in the end. National Science Foundation attorney Charisse Carney-Nunes acknowledged that while "consultation" with Native Hawaiians was required by federal law, "concurrence" – agreement – was not.

That didn't sit well with the 75 or so residents, most of them Hawaiians, who were hoping that a mountain of objections could send the telescope proponents packing.

"I've been consulting, I know the game," said a disgusted Kalei Kaeo, a Maui Community College instructor in Hawaiian studies. "We come, we show, we say a few words and they do what they want to do anyway. That's consulting."

The articles goes on to explain more about the process (eg. "It was the third hearing in little more than a month on Maui where those speaking have essentially said the same thing.") and the proposal (eg. "Rising 143 feet above ground, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope would become the tallest building on the island.").

Uncle Charlie Maxwell is quoted as saying this: "If (U.S. Sen.) Dan Inouye wants this, it will happen."

Monson then it goes on to some of the positions of those speaking against the proposal...
Maxwell said he remains opposed to the telescope, but he's unsuccessfully tried to halt the construction of two earlier telescopes.

"If they're going to build it, give us something in return," said Maxwell, who suggested that developers build a traditional Hawaiian navigation and astronomy center for the community should the telescope be funded.

"I'm not in favor of this, but it might be the third time I said this and it will happen anyway."
Kaeo wondered if officials would even think of putting the giant telescope at such revered or sacred sites as Machu Picchu, Mt. Everest, Stonehenge or Mt. Zion.

Oliver Dukelow raised the question of land title. The 18-acre observatory site was established on ceded lands by an executive order from Gov. William Quinn in 1961. The very issue of ceded lands (former government lands taken over by the United States upon annexation and turned over to the state upon statehood) has been disputed by those who say the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom means the lands were never ceded, or surrendered.

The first Hawaiian organization also officially took a stand against the project. Lui Hokoana read a letter that said the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs – the oldest community-based grassroots Hawaiian organization in the state, representing 51 clubs throughout the islands and the Mainland – voted last weekend to support the Maui District Council and its member clubs' position to oppose construction.

Toni Dizon, an MCC agriculture student, got the first ovation. Dizon said if the government had $175 million to spare, then use the cash for a better purpose, such as the college's ag department, to clean up polluted waters on Maui, restore taro farming and help students obtain their degrees.

"You guys don't belong up there," she said. "You should purify things down here instead of futtin' around up there. You damn well don't belong on Haleakala."

Posted: Thu - May 4, 2006 at 12:26 AM    
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Published On: May 04, 2006 12:34 AM
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