Timeline of Events
Pō. Wākea lived with Papa, begetter of islands. Begotten was Hawai`i, an island. Mele Kumu Honua
Pre-Western Contact. This sacred landscape is home to numerous trails, ahu, heiau, cinder cone pu`u (hills), and burials, and a center for Hawaiian navigational, astronomical and meterological knowlege. In modern Hawai`i, the sacred summit remains a wao akua, of Wākea (‘Sky Father’ to all Hawaiians) and the piko (umbilical cord) of the island-child, Hawai`i, connecting the land to the heavens on the the highest point in the Pacific.
1968. The state Land Board issues a general lease to the University of Hawai`i to build one observatory on Mauna Kea. Over the next 20 years, developers build a number of telescope complexes, without permits. Over public protest, the Land Board issues “after the fact” permits for the unauthorized development.
1983-1985. Mauna Kea Complex Development Plan prepared and approved by BLNR in 1985. This plan allows up to thirteen (13) telescopes by the year 2000.
1992-1996. Three more telescopes constructed.
1998. Hawai‘i State Auditor releases critical report documenting 30 years of mismanagement of Mauna Kea by the Land Board and University of Hawai`i.
1999. Two more telescopes constructed. Developers propose four to six more telescopes, finding “no significant impact” in a short environmental assessment.
2000. The 2000 Master Plan is developed by UH, allowing for at least 40 new telescopes and support structures.
2002. Eight more telescopes constructed.
2005. A court-ordered EIS concludes the cumulative impact of 30 years of astronomy activity has caused “significant, substantial and adverse” harm. State law prohibits permits for projects in conservation districts that cause significant and adverse harm.
2007. After a protracted legal battle, Third Circuit Court Judge Hara revokes the permit issued by the Land Board for the Keck Outrigger Project and invalidates UH’s 2000 Master Plan, requiring a new plan be developed/approved.
2009. The Land Board approves UH’s “Comprehensive Management Plan,” a development plan which paves the way for an unlimited number of new telescopes and support structures. Long-time advocates call for a contested case. The Board denies their standing, on the basis of “no property, no say.” The group heads to court.
2010. There are three open proposals for new telescope developments on the summit. Developers for the largest, the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope, apply for a permit to build in the summit conservation district from the BLNR in October 2010.
Today, community advocates for Mauna Kea continue in their fight for a better future for this wahi pana.