(Photo courtesy of www.hawaiiankingdom.org)
Maori women’s collective, Te Wharepora Hou, today affirm solidarity with their Hawaiian brothers and sister’s efforts to protect ancestral lands.
‘Protectors of Mauna a Wakea’ have been occupying Mauna a Wakea, a sacred ancestral mountain on the island of Hawaii during recent weeks to prevent the construction of the world’s largest telescope; the planned Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) project.
[quote_center]“The TMT project is a direct attack on the physical, spiritual and cultural integrity of Mauna a Wakea. These actions are an attack on the wellbeing of the Hawaiian People and the generations to come. Something Maori and indigenous people understand and have struggled against in our movement for self-determination”, says Te Wharepora Hou member Dr Mera Penehira.
Ka’uhane Lee, Hawaiian educator explains “What needs to be realized here with the strong efforts to protect sacred Mauna a Wākea, and all sacred sites in Hawaiʻi is that any desecration of our ancestral lands and natural resources are like pulling the plug on our life support. Our cultural and spiritual traditions, practices and teachings of caring for all things of life are what feed us and keep us alive and healthy on all levels of our being.”
She states “Another serious matter we are dealing with is the fact that Hawaiʻi is illegally occupied by the United States. Unfortunately, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is part of the U.S. system which makes it difficult for some trustees to take an honest, strong stance to advocate for the majority of people who are against the TMT and to resist and oppose these destructive plans.”
Hawaiian Kingdom representative, Dr Keanu Sai echoes these concerns. He is concerned with the legalities associated with past and present acts of land desecretation in Hawaii. He explains, “Right now everything that is done on Mauna Kea is in violation of international law and the laws of occupation. Meaning it is the Hawaiian government, its nationals, its agencies that make that determination, not a foreign entity”.
The opposition movement is experiencing success. Firstly all construction of the telescope has been halted at this point. On May 1st there was also a significant back down by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) who rescinded their original support for the project. Although a step in the right direction, many have argued that OHA should have gone further and made a clear statement of opposition to the TMT project
Te Wharepora Hou will continue to support the people of Hawaii in protecting ancestral lands and joins the call of other Indigenous and aboriginal collectives around the globe to raise their voices in opposition.
Dr Mera Penehira (Aotearoa)
Ka’uhane Lee (Hawaii)