OHA trustee calling for moratorium on Mauna Kea telescope

By Paula Akana
Longtime community activist Ritte says the goal to get "all of these observatories off the mountain"

HILO, Hawaii —A quieter day at Mauna Kea on Good Friday. There were no arrests on this holiday and no construction was underway on the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Click here to watch Paula Akana's report.

Protesters were back again. They did turn away a truck for a company that was to build a fence around the construction site.
Protesters were allowed on the site where they walked around and built an ahu -- a far cry from Thursday when there were arrests.
On Friday, an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and a community activist were brought together and called for action.
Two Hawaiian community leaders with similar concerns but different messages.
"The goal now is not to stop the building of this observatory. The goal now is to get all of these observatories off this mountain," said longtime community activist Walter Ritte.
Strong words from Ritte in response to Thursday's arrests of 31 demonstrators protesting the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea, which is on ceded lands.
OHA trustee Peter Apo, speaking on behalf of himself, made it clear that, while he respects Ritte, getting rid of the telescopes is not his goal. Apo wants a stand down on construction of the telescope. He's calling on the governor and University of Hawaii President David Lassner to make it happen.
"By declaring a 30-day moratorium and create a quiet period to which time the governor should assemble the right set of leaders in an attempt to engage in meaningful, not condescending, meaningful conversation," said Apo.
Apo wants the state, along with Native Hawaiians, to revisit the management plans of Mauna Kea, which is ceded lands -- lands that formerly belonged to the Hawaiian Crown.
Both say the multi-year process leading up to the issuance of a building green light were flawed and pointed out there is still cases pending before the courts.
The tipping point? The arrests. Ritte says he met with the governor's chief of staff Mike McCartney, Lassner and the Department of Land and Natural Resources Wednesday night and left that meeting with the belief there were going to be no arrests.
"The arrests that are being made is really, in my opinion, a stunning error in judgement. And kind of an 'in your face' provocation to Native Hawaiians that a construction's schedule is more important than people," said Ritte.
The university issued this statement today:
"UH welcomes all calls for more dialogue and is actively meeting and addressing the issue at the highest levels."
McCartney issued this statement;
"We are aware of this situation and are deeply involved in discussions and conversations about this important matter. However, we must respectfully decline to comment at this time to protect the integrity of these discussions and allow productive conversations to continue."
Apo says he will also encourage OHA as a whole to get behind a push for a moratorium and renewed conversations.
Read the original story
Document Actions