Actor Jason Momoa lends star power to TMT protests
Actor Jason Momoa added some star power to the daily noontime protocol for theThirty Meter Telescope protesters Wednesday, walking up the closed Mauna Kea Access Road to present an offering in front of a crowd of about 600.
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Mauna Kea >> Actor Jason Momoa added some star power to the daily noontime protocol for theThirty Meter Telescope protesters Wednesday, walking up the closed Mauna Kea Access Road to present an offering in front of a crowd of about 600.
Momoa, an outspoken supporter of the protesters who helped popularize the movement against TMT in 2015, wore a haku lei, strands of maile and sunglasses as he stood in light rain watching hula and listening to the crowd pray in Hawaiian.
When his turn came to make a presentation at 12:40 p.m., he stepped forward to present a hookupu or formal offering wrapped in ti leaf.
“I just want to say that I’m thankful to the protectors and the stewards of this land, and we are not going anywhere,” he told the crowd.
>> Photo Gallery: Jason Momoa visits TMT protesters at Mauna Kea
Momoa also joined protest leaders for a press conference after the protocol was complete, and remained at the puuhonua (refuge) at Puu Huluhulu after his public appearance to videotape discussions and exchanges with people involved in the weeks-long anti-TMT demonstrations. He said Wednesday he planned to release those videos through his own social media accounts.
“I’m interested in solutions, but if there’s one thing that’s not going to happen, they’re not building it here,” Momoa said, prompting cheers from the crowd.
Momoa is one of a string of celebrities with Hawaii ties who have endorsed the TMT protest movement, and helped raise the profile of the effort to block development of the $1.4 billion telescope on Mauna Kea. Some consider the project a desecration of the mountain, which many Hawaiians believe is sacred land.
Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and musician Jack Johnson have already visited the protest site to show their support, and musician Bruno Mars on Wednesday announced on Instagram that he also backs the protesters.
“I love you Hawaii, and I’m with you. #protectmauna kea,” wrote Mars, who posted a photo of kupuna or elders seated in a row across the access road. The elderly protesters have been a mainstay of the movement, and have sat in the roadway to prevent construction equipment from reaching the summit to begin work on TMT.
Mars’ Instagram post had received more than 168,000 reactions just before 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Protest leader Kaho‘okahi Kanuha said there is “nothing to report” on talks between the protesters and the state, county or representatives of TMT. Opponents have repeatedly urged TMT to abandon its plans to build on Mauna Kea and instead move the project to an alternate site in the Canary Islands, but received no direct reply, he said.
“It is what it is. We’re not moving, and they’re not moving either,” he said. “The only way they’re moving is to the Canary Islands.”
With a hurricane and a major storm approaching the islands, protest organizers said they are ready to evacuate the site near the intersection of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway and Mauna Kea Access Road if need be, but said they will “maintain a small contingency to protect and secure the puuhonua.”
If necessary, Kanuha said the plan is to remove all tent structures including a donation area, kitchen area and warehouse area as well as a daycare area and evacuate the camp to keep everyone safe.
“Certain individuals will kupaa (persist) here as well, and we will make sure that this place remains secure for our people to return to the puuhonua,” he said.
In another development, protest organizer Kaleikoa Kaeo said activists will attend a meeting of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents Friday morning at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Information Technology Building.
At that meeting the regents are expected to discuss appointing several members to a group that will “investigate issues and make recommendations” in connection with governance of Mauna Kea.
“The question to the University of Hawaii and David Lassner and the Board of Regents, why do they continue to dehumanize us in this process? Why cannot they see that we are human beings that have been here for 2,000 years, that we have a right to protect our lands, and to determine our lands and the future of our people?” Kaeo said.
A spokesman for the university said all testimony is welcome. The plan is to have the permitted interaction group of regents make findings and recommendations to the full board “regarding the development of a statement expressing principles supported by the board as it pertains to Maunakea.”