Former Hawaii resident and “Jumanji” star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson told “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” viewers Wednesday night why he recently decided to visit Thirty Meter Telescope opponents on Mauna Kea.
Johnson, who was among the string of celebrities with Hawaii ties to bring a high-profile endorsement of the TMT protest movement, told viewers he wanted to “get his boots on the ground” on Mauna Kea.
Since July 15, demonstrators have gathered to block a road at the base of Mauna Kea to protest the development of the $1.4 billion telescope on Hawaii’s tallest mountain, which many Native Hawaiians believe to be a desecration of sacred land.
“Because I grew up in Hawaii, I understand what it’s like to have that sacred land,” Johnson said.
Johnson did not announce his Mauna Kea visit in advance on his social media accounts, and his appearance surprised hundreds of people who were present when he arrived shortly before noon July 24. Johnson called the experience beautiful and inspiring.
“You have men, women, children and elderly — kupuna that we call them — who aren’t leaving,” Johnson said. “And they are so steadfast and passionate about the sacredness of this land.”
A total of 34 elders were arrested July 17 during a sit-in protest on Mauna Kea Access Road on Hawaii island.
“I joke that cheat meals are church,” Johnson said. “But the truth is: This mountain is their church — like building on their church.”
TMT opponents continue to protest on the mountain. However, protest organizers said they are ready to evacuate the site with a hurricane and major storm approaching the Hawaiian Islands.
Gov. David Ige on Tuesday called off the emergency order for Mauna Kea due to the approaching storms and extended the TMT construction deadline to start for two years — until Sept. 26, 2021.