There have been few issues in recent memory that have been as controversial for Hawai‘i than the Thirty Meter Telescope project on Hawai‘i Island. As people weigh in on all sides, I continue to believe that respect for Mauna Kea can be reconciled with astronomy, and that Native Hawaiian culture and modern science can co-exist to benefit the entire community.
I would be the first to say that we have much work to do to right the wrongs of
the past. However, we shouldn’t discount the progress we’ve made as a
community, such as decisive, corrective action to improve the lives of Native
Hawaiians. This ranges from the public Hawaiian immersion programs to the
creation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and record-high funding for the
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
In fact – I worked with Governor John Waihee to establish the first Hawaiian
immersion programs on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island in 1987. It was clear to me then,
that saving the Hawaiian language was fundamental to saving the culture. I still
believe that we can support both the Hawaiian culture and projects like the TMT.
The most recent polls show that a majority of people in Hawai‘i support the TMT
project for the benefits it can provide our state and the world. After 10 years of
legal review and thousands of pages of documents and testimony from all sides, it
was determined that the project has the right to proceed. As governor, I am
obligated to enforce the law. I want to work with protest leaders and others to
come to a reasonable resolution that ensures safety and respects the law. I
believe we can achieve a better future for everyone when we work together.
However, if activists say there is no compromise, that leaves the state with few
options. We will enforce the law while making people aware of the facts that have
been part of this decade-long legal process. There has been a lot of
misinformation circulated. We are working to provide factual, accurate details so
people can base their opinions on sound information rather than rumors. We ask
for your patience as we work to find a peaceful way forward, that respects
community concerns and deeply held feelings.
THE SILENT MAJORITY:
There is a silent majority of residents who support TMT, among them – a Native
Hawaiian grandfather and grandson. The grandfather, Oliver Crowell, a graduate
of Kamehameha Schools was recently in the news lately. He said he knows of
many Native Hawaiians who support TMT but are reluctant to speak out since the
issue has become so personal.
On Hawai‘i News Now, Crowell said the state can’t afford to pass up the
educational benefits of the project. He said, “Some of us who look back at our
lives see the opportunities that lie ahead for young students today, what we
never got. I wouldn’t want them to miss out on that.”
In the meantime, Crowell’s grandson Cody participated in a recent Imua TMT
rally, and he wrote me a letter. It said, “Please hear me as a young Hawaiian. I’m
only 12 years old, but my heart feels like an ancient Hawaiian soul. I believe my
ancestors would want the telescope for me, for our world. Why would we fight
when we have the attention of the world. Now is our time to show we can unite.
We can make a difference the world can follow. You made the world listen. Now
make them see how intelligent we are, how we can work together.”