UPDATE: 5:55 p.m.
Gov. David Ige arrived at the site of the Mauna Kea protests shortly before 5:30 p.m today, and was greeted by a crowd that numbered about 1,000. It is his first visit to Mauna Kea since protests began on July 15.
Four protest organizers greeted and embraced Ige, and the crowd chanted as he approached the tent that serves as headquarters for the kupuna. Ige was given a lei and invited to step forward to speak to the crowd.
Ige passed through the tent, embracing kupuna as he went, and many smiled as they hugged him. Most took the opportunity to have a brief, quiet exchange with the governor, and some shed tears.
Ige told the crowd he has a chance to speak to leaders of the protest and learn a great deal. Organizers said they would take Ige on a brief tour of the puuhonua, to “show him what kapu aloha looks like.”
As Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim watched from some distance away, Ige and Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Bill Aila listened to a chant from the afternoon crowd.
Ige was treated to a series of hula performances, and left shortly after 6:15 pm without making any further remarks to the crowd.
Approximately 1,000 people were in the area of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway and Mauna Kea Access Road today, according to Mauna Kea officials.
There have been no arrests over the past 24 hours.
Protesters prevented existing observatory technicians from passing through their checkpoint at around 8 a.m. today.
“This was contrary to an earlier agreement between law enforcement and the protesters that astronomy technicians would be allowed passage. The crew ultimately returned to Hilo. Itʻs important to note that blocking vehicular and pedestrian traffic is illegal,” Mauna Kea officials said.
Thirty Meter Telescope officials issued a short response to Gov. David Ige’s announcement that he has asked Mayor Harry Kim to coordinate efforts to resolve the standoff.
“Maunakea is special and remains the preferred choice for TMT. We support finding a way forward that is safe and based on mutual respect,” the statement said.
Gov. David Ige traveled to Hawaii island and met with Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim today, but there was no word on whether the mayor or governor will go to Mauna Kea.
Ige today announced that he is asking Kim to “coordinate” both state and county efforts to resolve the standoff on Mauna Kea over development of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
* Here is his full statement:
“Today, I am asking Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim to coordinate both county and state efforts to peacefully attempt to reach common ground with the protectors of Maunakea and the broader community. Mayor Kim is closest to the situation and the impacts are greatest on the island he leads.
We both share the goal of achieving a resolution that is peaceful and satisfactory to as many as possible in the community. I support the vision he has widely articulated for Maunakea as a beacon of hope and discovery for the world that brings us together rather than divides us. And we both understand that the issues underlying what is taking place today are far deeper than TMT or Maunakea. They are about righting the wrongs done to the Hawaiian people going back more than a century.
While Mayor Kim will be taking the lead, hard decisions will need to be jointly supported by the state and county and we will be working together to determine next steps that are in the best interests of all the people of Hawaiʻi.”
Luana Busby Neff, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner who has been participating in the protests at Mauna Kea for a week, said today’s court decision clears the way for others.
“That’s just really a portal for everyone else to follow, because Paul is claiming as a Native Hawaiian practitioner and is being given access to Mauna Kea, then that’s just the one man that will lead into the many, because you cannot just give one person.
“We have hundreds, thousands of Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, so if he’s been allowed back by the court, then they actually just opened the door for everybody else to go in,” she said.
DLNR spokesman Dan Dennison said enforcement officers on Mauna Kea have not yet been given instructions on how to accommodate Neves when he arrives on the mountain.
MAUNA KEA >> The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement has released the names of the 38 people who were arrested on Mauna Kea July 17 for blocking Mauna Kea Access Road after being told by law enforcement to leave.
They are Walter Ritte, Loretta Ritte, Abel Lui, Liko-O-Kalani Martin, Deborah Lee, Maxine Kahauelio, Kelii Ioane, Raynette Robinson, Marie Alohalani Brown, Kaliko Lehua Kanaele, James Naniole, James Albertini, Richard L. Deleon, Renee Price, Pualani Kanahele, Daniel Li, Patricia Green, William K. Freitas, Tomas Belsky, Ana Kahoopii, Daycia-Dee Chun, Flora Hookano, Desmond Haumea, Linda Leilani Lindsey-Kaapuni, Edleen Peleiholani, Gene Burke, Luana Neff, Carmen Lindsey, Deena Oana-Hurwitz, Wilson Wong, Damian Trask, Mililani Trask, Mahea Kalima, Donna Leong, Haloley Reese, Sharol Awai, John Turalde and Alika Desha.
DLNR initially said 33 people were arrested Wednesday, July 17. That number was changed to 34 and now to 38 people who were arrested on Mauna Kea.
A state court granted today a Big Island kumu hula’s request for a temporary stay or suspension of Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation restricting public access to Mauna Kea. The court order, however, applies only to plaintiff Paul Kevin Neves, with conditions.
Neves of Hilo sued Ige Thursday claiming that the proclamation prevents him from practicing traditional Native Hawaiian culture.
He said he needs to go to the summit for prayer.
Ige issued the emergency proclamation last Wednesday in response to protesters blocking the road to the summit to prevent the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
A Hawaii island judge this morning declined to temporarily block the Thirty Meter Telescope construction project.
Hilo Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ruled that the TMT opponents who filed for the temporary restraining order were unable to meet the criteria necessary to issue the order.
The claim, filed by the Mauna Kea Hui, argued that the state’s 1977 Mauna Kea Plan requires developments at the summit to have a security bond in the amount of the full cost of the project.
Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Richard Pollack brought up the point during TMT oral arguments, but the high court ultimately endorsed the project.
The petitioners are also asking for an injunction, and a court hearing was scheduled for Aug. 27.
MAUNA KEA >> Kahookahi Kanuha, a leader in the Thirty Meter Telescope opposition group, said he was hopeful after Gov. David Ige’s announcement today that he was asking Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim to coordinate state and county efforts to resolve the impasse over TMT construction, calling it a hopefully positive move.
“I’m hopeful that it’s a positive step in the right direction,” Kanuha said at a news conference on Mauna Kea. “Because Mayor Harry Kim, unlike the governor, has come to the Puuhonua o Puuhuluhulu himself. He’s been here three times. He has addressed the people. He lives in this community. He knows this community. And so I’m hopeful that his leadership would be much more understanding and, I guess, that we would have a better path and better chance of moving forward in a way that’s beneficial to all through his leadership.”
The term “beneficial to all”, Kanuha added, includes TMT if the project is built in the Canary Islands instead.
Kanuha also urged Ige to relent on a prohibition on any cultural practitioners visiting the summit of Mauna Kea for Native Hawaiian customary practices.
Kanuha said his group asked a week ago for such access, limited to one car a day, in return for allowing crews from existing observatories to access the summit for work.
This bargain, Kanuha said, was denied as nonnegotiable despite cultural access being constitutionally protected.
“We are calling on the governor to make that concession,” Kanuha said, adding that it would be helpful if officials with the observatories on Mauna Kea supported TMT opponents on this issue. “We do not want to obstruct your access,” he said.
This morning, staff for the Gemini Observatory in an SUV appeared to be blocked by another SUV from driving up Mauna Kea Access Road. Kanuha said there was a discussion between the Gemini staff and the TMT opponents, who call themselves kiai, or “protectors,” preventing delivery of TMT construction materials and equipment to the summit, and that the Gemini staff decided to retreat.
University of Hawaii spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said the protesters agreed early on to allow rangers, support staff at the visitors’ center and telescope maintenance crews to travel to the summit, but not astronomers.
The rangers along with water trucks and visitor center staff have been allowed up each day, he said.
The incident today was the first time the observatories attempted to send their maintenance crews up, and they were turned away, Meisenzahl said.
Gov. David Ige today asked Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim “to coordinate both county and state efforts to peacefully attempt to reach common ground with the protectors of Maunakea and the broader community.”
Ige said that Kim “is closest to the situation and the impacts are greatest on the island he leads.”
“We both share the goal of achieving a resolution that is peaceful and satisfactory to as many as possible in the community,” Ige said in a statement. “I support the vision he has widely articulated for Maunakea as a beacon of hope and discovery for the world that brings us together rather than divides us. And we both understand that the issues underlying what is taking place today are far deeper than TMT or Maunakea. They are about righting the wrongs done to the Hawaiian people going back more than a century.”
While Kim “will be taking the lead, hard decisions will need to be jointly supported by the state and county and we will be working together to determine next steps that are in the best interests of all the people of Hawaii.”
About 1,000 protesters remain at the base of Mauna Kea today as state officials warn about the dangers of being at “high elevation.”
Dan Dennison, spokesman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, told reporters this morning that a 21-year-old man was afflicted with altitude sickness around 7 p.m. Monday at the camp at Daniel K. Inouye Highway, known commonly as Saddle Road.
The man declined treatment and left the area on his own, Dennison said.
The camp is at an elevation of 6,632 feet.
“This is considered high elevation,” Dennison said.
He urged people to take precautions due to the elevation, sun and winds.
Star-Advertiser reporters Kevin Dayton, Andrew Gomes and Mark Ladao contributed to this report from Mauna Kea.