The construction permit of the Thirty Metre Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii – which Native Hawaiians consider sacred – has been rescinded.
The Hawaiian Supreme Court ruled that the telescope project should not be given permit by the state of Hawaii without hearing out what the Native Hawaiians have to say about it first. Indigenous people – who filed the lawsuit – hindered work on the telescope for months, by camping on the Mauna Kea Mountain.
According to officials behind the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) project, the Hawaii Supreme Court did not rule against the telescope project, but rather against the state’s process.
Universities in California and Hawaii – that partnered with the company behind TMT – insisted that they made every possible effort to accommodate both environmental and cultural concerns from local residents. That included the selection of a site without any shrines, archaeological sites, and endangered wildlife or plant species.
The Thirty Metre Telescope website stated that Mauna Kea is one of the best sites in the world for astronomy. Currently, Mauna Kea is home to other smaller telescopes.
Native Hawaiians claim that their disapproval with the Thirty Metre Telescope project stems from neither precisely geographic, not entirely religious reasons.
Kealoha Pisciotta, a spokesperson for Mauna Kea Hui – the group that sued Thirty Meter Telescope – dismissed depictions of the case as a conflict of science versus religion. According to her, the case is strictly about land use.
Lanakila Mangauil, one of the Native Hawaiian leaders, took to Facebook and wrote a statement in which he disagreed with the idea that the claims of Native Hawaiians were overtly religious.
Although the court ruling does not prevent TMT from trying again, the company, which was supposed to work along with the University of California (UC), California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the University of Hawaii has yet to release a statement.
Should the company begin the permit process once again, the state would have to hold a hearing. Native Hawaiians are prepared for future efforts to build on Mauna Kea.
About ten years ago, a similar conflict occurred between the scientific community and indigenous people. The conflict ended with a loss for the astronomers in Hawaii who wanted to build outriggers on a telescope on Mauna Kea Mountain.
Image source: www.kinja.com