Mauna Kea timeline

While telescope development on Mauna Kea is a contemporary issue, the prominent position of this sacred place within Hawaiian genealogy means beginning this timeline in pō. More recent events focus on legal challenges and popular resistance.

Updated on September 10, 2016

2016 (Jun 17) All parties (including TMT) accepted to the Contested Case Hearing

2016 Apr - Jun Retired Judge Riki Amano is seated as Hearing Officer for the second round of Contested Case Hearings on the Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) for the TMT despite objections from the Mauna Kea Hui, the University of Hawai`i, and non-party TMT, LLC.

2016 March TMT announces that they are looking at alternate sites to build TMT

2016 (Mar 11) Kalani Flores prevails in TMT sublease challenge at first circuit court, and is sent back to BLNR for reconsideration

2016 (Feb 16) HB2712/SB3020 are deferred. They sought to create "science subzones," special areas (including Mauna Kea) where projects would get much less public scrutiny and be essentially fast tracked. Here are the talking points we put together that we will hopefully never have to use!

2015 (Dec 16) Earth moving machines removed from Mauna Kea.

2015 (Dec 2) Supreme Court vacates the TMT Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) and sends it back to the BLNR for reconsideration! Click here to see the ruling.

2015 (Nov 17) The Mauna Kea Hui files a motion for an emergency order staying construction; the Hawai‘i Supreme Court issue an order the same day, halting construction “until Wednesday, December 2, 2015 or further order of the court.”

2015 (Oct 9-12) Third Circuit Court invalidates the “emergency rules” that barred people from being on the mauna at night. The ruling results in the Hawai`i County prosecutor throwing out all of the cases where people were arrested for violating the now defunct emergency rules (seven on Jul 31 and eight more on Sept 9)

2015 (Sept 14) After kia`i agree to remove two ahu to avoid having them bulldozed, a third, that they were assured would be left alone, is in fact destroyed by a Mauna Kea Support Services employee.

2015 (Aug 27) Oral arguments regarding the Conservation District Use Permit for the TMT heard in Hawai`i Supreme Court. Justices grill UH and BLNR over due process issues--why was the permit granted before a Contested Case Hearing held? Raw footage of the entire proceeding provided by

2015 (Aug 9) 10,000 people join in the Aloha `Āina Unity March through Waikīkī bringing together the many different issues facing Hawai`i (ranging from telescope development of our sacred summits, the loss of agricultural lands to housing development, large scale GMO crop testing and pesticide use, Hawaiian independence and more) Check out KAHEA boardmember, Jon Osorio and his talented daughter, Jamaica offering wonderful mele and mana`o.

2015 (Jul 30) DLNR gears up to begin enforcing the new “emergency rule” and says they will restrict the media’s access during any enforcement action.

2015 (Jul 10) After more than 8 hours of public testimony, many in opposition, BLNR passes “emergency rules” restricting public access to Mauna Kea claiming that there is a risk to public safety. Click here to watch inspiring testimony from kia`i Kaleo Keli`ikoa on why he chose to place rocks on the road in protection of the mauna.

2015 (June. 24) 750 peaceful protesters prevent TMT construction crews from reaching the summit of Mauna Kea. 12 are arrested.

2015 (May. 26) Governor Ige holds press conference to announce his ten-point plan on how to improve the management of Mauna Kea. UH released an update on their progress on May 25, 2016 which can be found here.

2015 (Apr. 20) Mauna Kea petition surpasses 53,000 signatures and is delivered to Governor Ige

2015 (Apr. 17)
Construction of the TMT on Mauna Kea continues postponement

2015 (Apr. 11) Moratorium extended on TMT construction on Mauna Kea. Governor Ige says the Thirty Meter Telescope team tells him the work will be postponed until April 20.

2015 (Apr. 7) Governor Ige calls for a one-week “timeout” during which no TMT construction would continue.

2015 (Apr. 2) Hawai`i Supreme court hears oral arguments from Kilakila `o Hale`akala against BLNR’s approval of a CDUP for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) proposed for the summit of Hale`akala.

2015 (Apr. 2) Hundreds of Mauna Kea protectors block roads accessing the proposed TMT site.  Thousands more show their support for the protection of Mauna Kea.  At least 31 peaceful demonstrators were arrested

2015 (Mar) TMT contractors attempt to begin grading and access-way construction for the TMT project

2015 (Jan. 21) Mauna Kea hui and supporters deliver a letter to the Governor on the opening day of the legislature, asking for his help in protecting Mauna Kea.

2015 (Jan. 9) UH files an Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice (EISPN) concerning its proposal to renew its lease of Mauna Kea summit lands

2014 (Oct. 7) TMT groundbreaking ceremony disrupted and ultimately stopped by mauna protectors

2014 (Dec) Mauna Kea hui file an opening brief with the ICA

2014 (Aug/Sep) Mauna Kea hui petitioners, the Flores-Case ‘Ohana and Ku Ching, Kealoha Pisciotta, and Kumu Hula Paul Neves file two appeals from BLNR’s approval UH’s sublease of Mauna Kea lands to the TMT corporation (TMT sublease appeals). BLNR approves UH’s proposed sublease of Mauna Kea lands to TMT Corporation.

2014 (Jul. 25) BLNR denied all contested case requests on the TMT sublease and accepts OHA’s withdrawal of its contested case request on the TMT sublease.

2014 (Jul. 23) OHA Board of Trustees vote to rescind their request for a contested case on UH’s proposed TMT sublease.

2014 (Jun 13) Mauna Kea Hui members and others, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) call for contested cases on UH’s proposed sublease of Mauna Kea lands to the TMT Corporation.  BLNR approved the TMT sublease pending disposition of contested cases.

2014 (May 5) Third Circuit Court affirmed BLNR’s approval of the TMT Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP).  Order Affirming CDUP (PDF)

2013 Mauna Kea Hui files a notice of appeal from the Third Circuit’s ruling on the TMT CDUP with the state Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA).

2013 (Dec. 13) Hawai`i Supreme Court ruled that procedural irregularities occurred in Kilakila o Haleakala, which concerned a CDUP for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), proposed to be constructed on the sacred summit of Haleakala.

2013 (Dec 13) BLNR defers its vote on UH’s proposed renewal of a master lease of the Mauna Kea summit, pending completion of an EIS.

2013 (Dec 13) Oral arguments before BLNR on the TMT CDUP contested case in Hilo.

2013 (Nov 6) ASUH, the undergraduate student governing body, that represents the 14,000 undergraduate students at UH has voted to pass a resolution in opposition to UH's seeking a new general lease.

2013 (Oct) Mural for Mauna Kea is painted at UH Manoa with language calling out UH’s claim  to be a “Hawaiian place of learning” while they bulldoze our most sacred sites. Ka Leo (who hosted the mural event) even painted over this language. After pressure by kanaka student group hauMANA, Ka Leo apologized for singling out the mural and for unevenly applying their policies.

2013 (May 13) Mauna Kea Hui files a notice of appeal from BLNR’s approval of the TMT CDUP with the Third Circuit.

2013 (April 12) BLNR issues its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decision and order, approving the TMT-CDUA.

2012  (Jan. 25) ICA denies Mauna Kea Hui’s challenge to UH’s CMP, concluding no public hearing was required on the CMP as “a management plan proposed independent of any proposed land use.”

2011 (November) ICA hears oral arguments from Mauna Kea Hui that UH’s Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) should be subject to public participation through contested case proceedings.

2011 (Aug-Sept) BLNR holds contested case hearings on TMT-CDUA.

2011 (Mar. 7) Mauna Kea Hui files petitions for a contested case on the TMT-CDUA.

2011 (Feb. 25) BLNR votes to grant the TMT-CDUA and also votes to hold a contested case on the TMT-CDUA.

2010 (Sep. 2) UH files its CDUA for the TMT project.

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.

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.

2007. UHIFA withdraws appeal of Third Circuit Court ruling and begins process of creating Comprehensive Management Plan for Mauna Kea.

2006. NASA withdraws funding for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes project. The State Third Circuit Court (Judge Glenn Hara) finds that a comprehensive management plan is required before further astronomy development on Mauna Kea and reverses CDUP granted for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes Project. UHIFA appeals Judge Hara's decision.

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.

2004. NASA announces it will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes. The state contested case hearing before BLNR ends. BLNR issues a CDUP for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes Project, allowing additional astronomy development to proceed without a comprehensive management plan. Community groups appeal to the State Third Circuit Court.

2003. U.S. District Court (Judge Susan Mollway) finds NASA's EA for the Keck Outrigger Project to be inadequate for failure to adequately address cumulative impacts. UHIFA applies for a CDUP for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes. A lengthy contested case hearing ensues in which UHIFA and BLNR take the position that a comprehensive management plan is not required for additional astronomy development, and that a piecemeal project specific "management plan" is adequate.

Developed Area of Mauna Kea2002.  Eight more telescopes constructed.

2000. The 2000 Master Plan is developed by UH, allowing for at least 40 new telescopes and support structures.

1999. Two more telescopes constructed. Developers propose four to six more telescopes, finding “no significant impact” in a short environmental assessment.

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. 1998 Audit of the management of Mauna Kea and Mauna Kea Science Reserve (PDF)

1992-1996.  Three more telescopes constructed.

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.

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.


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.

. Wākea lived with Papa, begetter of islands. Begotten was Hawai`i, an island. Mele Kumu Honua

Today, community advocates for Mauna Kea continue in their fight for a better future for this wahi pana.


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