Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 12, 2015

Kanaka Monitor Mauna Kea During Temporary Halt of Construction

Media Contacts:
Kaiulani Milham 
Kamahana Kealoha
(MAUNA KEA, Hawai'i Island, April 11, 2015) — Kanaka protectors and supporters continue to maintain their vigil at 9,000 feet above sea level to protect Mauna Kea, also known as Mauna a Wakea, on Hawaii Island amidst growing support pouring in from around the globe. The protectors insist on monitoring the summit of Mauna Kea despite Hawaii Governor Ige's announcement that the temporary halt to construction, which was set to end tomorrow, April 12, will be extended until April 20, 2015. The protectors continue their vigil, braving the frigid weather on the summit of Mauna Kea, awakening this morning to frost-covered tents.

The warrior-protectors are defending the mountain from the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), a desecration of one of the most sacred places in the Hawaiian Islands. There are also other ongoing legal and environmental issues over the proposed development. The peaceful protest has been ongoing for years, but in the past several months, it has gathered more momentum and support from Hawaiians and others around the world. The 24-hour blockade began eleven days and nights ago on April 1, 2015.

Today from Hilo, Governor Ige announced an extension to a temporary halt to construction of the TMT project, thanking the TMT "for its willingness to be respectful and sensitive to all of Hawaii–its special people, its sense of place and its unique host culture." However, protectors are resolute in their position that construction not resume, and momentum against the TMT is only getting stronger. Mauna Kea's protectors have continued to magnify their numbers exponentially with a global sign-waving and media blitz that continues to trend on different social platforms internationally, and media coverage continues to spread.

It is estimated that tens of thousands of supporters are taking part in hundreds of planned and spontaneous local and international demonstrations here in Hawaii and around the globe. Many of these world-wide protesters are displaying the distinct hand signal that has become synonymous with the Hawaiian worldview of the mountain. The diamond shape hand-signal represents the idea of "piko," a term used to refer to the umbilical cord or center of one's being. For generations, native speakers used the Hawaiian language phrase "ka piko kaulana o ka aina" (literally "the famous summit of all the land") [phonetic pronunciation: Kah pee-koh cow-lahna oh kah eye-nah] to describe the sacredness and wonders of the summit.

In addition to demonstrations from the west to the east coasts of the United States, protectors emerged from many other nations including Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, England, the Federated States of Micronesia, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kanaky New Caledonia, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Norway, Okinawa, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tahiti, Tonga, and West Papua, demonstrating how highly regarded Hawaii is in the eyes of the world. Hawaii is marketed as an idyllic tropic paradise and premier international tourist destination to the world, in part for its breathtaking natural beauty of its lands, seas, culture, and people. The world is responding to the protectors' call to support the sacred mountain and halt further desecration. The protectors continue to remind all that the 24 hour stand will continue as long as the summit is threatened by the TMT project and any desecration. Visit this link to access pictures of this international support at:

Spontaneous creation of poetry, dance, visual art and other mele aloha 'aina (protest songs expressing deep love for the land) are being shared on the sacred mauna and across social media. This was particularly visible last week as thousands from the global hula community were in Hilo to celebrate the internationally-recognized Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. Numerous halau and musicians went to Mauna Kea throughout the week to offer musical ho'okupu [ho-oh-coo-poo] or offerings, many dedicated to the female deities of the mountain, and to the warrior chiefess Manono who fought against colonial incursion against traditional religion and died on the battlefield of Kuamo'o [Coo-ah-mo-oh], South Kona, alongside her chiefly husband Kekuaokalani, in 1819.

Lastly, in further response to Governor Ige's statement regarding the TMT project, that prior decisions have been made and should be honored, Kamahana Kealoha, an advocate for the Sacred Mauna Kea Hui, respectfully released the following response:

"Although State entities have made decisions in the past to allow the TMT to pass through the Department of Land and Natural Resources' Conservation District Use Application process, the flagrant industrialization of an endangered species district reasonably warrants that entities involved seriously consider the legal ramifications of denying kanaka, and all Hawaii citizens, the basic humanity and protections securing the absolute safety of Hawaii Island's main freshwater aquifer, a resource essential to all life.

The Sacred Mauna Kea Hui also asserts that respect, in keeping with the Hawaiian customs associated with any remains interred, be afforded to iwi, or Hawaiian burials, and that these sacred remains should never be, for any reason, desecrated by disturbing them in any way.

The Sacred Mauna Kea Hui maintains that an endangered species, protected environment, should never be industrialized so blatantly a stone's throw away from Hawaii island's main water aquifer which is also home to countless sacred, unidentified, traditionally interred graves."

Kamahana Kealoha
(Sacred Mauna Kea Hui Facilitator)
Sacred Mauna Kea is receiving donations from Native American tribes and others for the purpose of supporting all efforts to protect Mauna Kea, including future bail for kupuna. Kupuna, up to 75 years of age, were among the first protectors taken away during the arrest of more than 30 protectors on Thursday, April 2.
Supporters bailed out all of the detainees within hours of their arrests. Funds such as Sacred Mauna Kea continue to welcome donations to assist with any future bail. The group also is continuing to request donations for flights to and from Hawaii between the other Hawaiian islands as well as much-needed accommodations, including food, ground transportation and other essentials. Visit
For more information and updates, visit On Twitter #AOLETMT.


Kamahana Kealoha
Head facilitator of the Sacred Mauna Kea Hui
phone: 808-853-8062

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