KAHEA's position statement on OHA's lawsuit

Posted by Lauren Muneoka at Nov 18, 2017 12:15 AM |
In the midst of all that’s going on, it can be hard to know what to make of OHA’s recently filed lawsuit against the State regarding the longtime mismanagement of Mauna Kea.

In the midst of all that’s going on, it can be hard to know what to make of OHA’s recently filed lawsuit against the State regarding the longtime mismanagement of Mauna Kea. Parties have filed appeals to the Supreme Court after the BLNR approved a Conservation District Use Permit, there is the pending appeal on Kalani Flores’ sublease case, the matter of UH attempting a new 65-year general lease because the existing one expires in 2033, and the ongoing attempts at rulemaking by the Office of Mauna Kea Management. How then, does OHA’s recent announcement fit into this crowded picture?

On November 9, 2017, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) announced it filed a lawsuit against the state, Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), and the University of Hawai`i (UH) for their mismanagement of Mauna Kea. For decades, many of us have been voicing opposition to the state’s failure to protect the fragile ecosystems of Mauna Kea and the rights of Hawaiian cultural practitioners in Mauna Kea’s cultural resources. From our perspective, it helps that OHA has stepped up its involvement to protect Mauna Kea in this way. We are not concerned with speculation that OHA is merely using this lawsuit to secure more funding. More funding for OHA does not take away from protection of Mauna Kea. Rather, it brings resources into a state agency that is meant to be answerable to Kanaka Maoli. OHA raising concerns about mismanagement, pursuing back-rent, and holding UH accountable for decades of empty promises all help to call out the university’s perverse attempt to industrialize Mauna Kea. OHA’s lawsuit helps to challenge the current sweetheart deals on the mountain.

Even though it does not specifically call out the hewa that is the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) proposal, OHA’s lawsuit helps us in our struggle against the TMT by seeking to rescind the general lease to UH and affirm our argument that UH and BLNR have been mismanaging Mauna Kea for decades, assembling another front on which UH must fight, and, perhaps most importantly, sending a clear message to TMT’s funders and supporters worldwide that construction of the TMT on Mauna Kea is far from a foregone conclusion.

Some are understandably wary of OHA’s motives for filing their recent lawsuit. OHA has spent two years meeting (or at least attempting to meet) with state officials without consulting with communities that have been in the fight to protect Mauna Kea for many years. This is cause for certain concern. But that concern should not overshadow our focus on the larger goal of protecting Mauna Kea.

The mismanagement of Mauna Kea has been going on long before the TMT. The road to securing Mauna Kea from exploitation and desecration will be a long one. To OHA - we are glad you are joining us.

** Read the 1998 State Audit that first “officially” documented mismanagement that kia`i had been observing and reporting for many years.


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