Hawaiʻi County Mayor Meets With TMT Officials About Mauna Kea's Future

Jan 9, 2020

Hawaiʻi Island Mayor Harry Kim met with Thirty Meter Telescope officials this week to discuss next steps in resolving the Mauna Kea dispute.

TMT board members Henry Yang and Saku Tsuneta flew into Hilo to share their concerns over what might follow a recent deal struck between the Big Island mayor and telescope opponents.

Last week, Mayor Kim said he agreed to suspend the county’s law enforcement activity on Mauna Kea for two months. In return, those calling themselves kiaʻi or protectors of the mountain cleared their tents from the access road that they had blocked since July.

Scott Ishikawa, a spokesman for TMT's developers, would not comment on the Hilo meeting, noting it was a private one.

But Mayor Kim said he told the telescope officials he plans to bring both sides together and review all options in resolving the Mauna Kea standoff.

"If I tell them, this is a meeting where there will be no TMT, they’re not going to show up," he said referring to TMT officials. "Or if I tell the kiaʻi there will be a meeting and the agenda is the scope will be on the mountain, I’ll have both sides not come.

"The best way is to get them together first and then give them an opportunity to talk and express positions, and know each other, and see where we can go. And that’s what I’m going to try to do."

Kim's two-month agreement with the protesters expires at the end of February.