Mauna Kea activists build illegal structure on lava field
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim is asking the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to investigate and “take necessary and appropriate action” in connection with an unpermitted wooden building being constructed in a lava field near the Mauna Kea protest camp.
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HILO >> Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim is asking the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to investigate and “take necessary and appropriate action” in connection with an unpermitted wooden building being constructed in a lava field near the Mauna Kea protest camp.
Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman William J. Aila responded in a statement Tuesday that law enforcement officials have notified the activists that the structure is unpermitted.
“Unauthorized structures on all DHHL lands statewide are addressed in a consistent manner,” Aila said in his statement.
“Following a posted Noticed To Vacate, DHHL will remove the structure as soon as resources become available.”
He added that “DHHL continues to prioritize the safety of all beneficiaries and the protection of the trust.”
Activists opposed to construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope have been building the pier-on-post structure near Puu Huluhulu, and by Monday had assembled the floor, framing and portions of the roof of the building. Walls were up Tuesday, and the roof was finished — a Hawaii flag mounted front and center.
In an apparent split within the protest movement, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I issued a statement that it does not “endorse or sanction” the building. The Royal Order established the puuhonua, or place of refuge, at Puu Huluhulu that is serving as a hub of the protest activity.
“While we remain steadfast in our commitment for the pu‘uhonua to be a safe haven for our people until we are sure our mauna is protected, we have no intention of establishing a permanent village within this refuge,” the order said in the statement.
“We have informed the individuals building the structure that neither the Royal Order of Kamehameha nor Pu‘uhonua o Pu‘uhuluhulu endorse or sanction the construction of immobile structures. We remain committed to maintaining only a temporary presence and a light footprint within the boundaries of the Pu‘uhonua.”
State Attorney General Clare E. Connors said Tuesday that the state was aware of the structure and was “looking into whether there have been any lawful means undertaken in building this and erecting it on this parcel of property.”
“To date, we have found nothing to indicate that it has received permits, that it has received any permission, and as far as the state is concerned, it appears to be an unauthorized structure that will have to be removed,” Connors said. She said state officials became aware of the structure over the Labor Day weekend.
“The state is fully appreciative of this moment in time and this need to ensure that this space is safe, secure, and that all stewardship obligations are fulfilled, and the state has not abandoned its obligations to keep that area safe, secure and to fulfill its stewardship obligations,” Connors said. “It is doing so under circumstances that have a political component to them, but it is continuing to do its duties.”