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Members Of Mauna Kea Working Group Announced

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Department of Land and Natural Resources
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Updated 5/11/21, 9 a.m.

House Speaker Scott Saiki unveiled the members of a new working group that will be responsible for recommending new management guidelines for Mauna Kea. The 15 member group will review and develop recommendations for a new governance and management structure for the mountain.

House Resolution 33 created the working group, as a result of an independent report's findings criticizing the University of Hawai?i, the leaseholder of the mountain. The report was critical of UH for not adequately reaching out to the Native Hawaiian community for its oversight of Mauna Kea. It also acknowledged Mauna Kea is one of the best managed and protected lands in the state.

The university responded to the report, saying it recognizes the report's criticisms and it is reviewing and taking steps to improve its engagement with the Native Hawaiian community.

The working group is comprised of state lawmakers, representatives from the public and private sector, and those nominated by Native Hawaiian groups and organizations. Saiki says 58 people were nominated for seven spots to represent the interests of Native Hawaiians.

The seven people selected include: Jocelyn Leialoha M. Doane, Lui Hokoana, Pualani Kanaka?ole Kanahele, Joshua Lanakila Manguil, Brialyn Onodera, Shane Palacat-Nelsen, Noe Noe Wong-Wilson.

Saiki says they were selected based on a "demonstrated commitment."

"It was based on experience, community involvement, advocacy and a willingness to work hard over the next few months to try to reach consensus on a resolution for this," he said.

Also serving on the group are:

  • Rep. Ty Cullen, District 39 - Royal Kunia, Village Park, Waipahu, Makakilo, West Loch
  • Rep. Stacelynn Eli, District 29 - Ewa Villages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko ?Olina, Nanakuli, Lualuali, Maili
  • Rep. David Tarnas, Chair of the House Water & Land Committee, District 7 - North Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala
  • Sterling Wong - Chief Advocate, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
  • Robert Masuda - First Deputy, Board of Land and Natural Resources
  • Bonnie Irwin - Chancellor, University of Hawai?i at Hilo
  • Rich Matsuda - Chief External Relations Officer and interim Chief Operating Officer, W.M. Keck Observatory

However, the group could face challenges with public buy-in, because it was established under a House resolution - which could limit its impact. But Saiki believes the group can convince the community to participate in the process.
"My sense is that once this group is made known to the public, and once it starts working, that there will be some momentum generated," Saiki said.

"I?m just hoping that at some point in time, that both the House and the Senate will see that there is a solid recommendation, and where there is buy-in from different groups and different organizations for a new management structure."

Saiki appointed Rep. Mark Nakashima, who represents Hamakua, North Hilo and South Hilo, to chair the working group.

Nakashima says they have not yet set a date for the group to hold its first meeting.

Saiki added funding for the group has not yet been allocated.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated UH was reprimanded for not adequately reaching out to the Native Hawaiian community in its oversight of Mauna Kea.

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