• Governor’s Message September 2019

    August 26, 2019


    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.


    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.”

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