Mauna Kea Hui Makes Plea to TMT Partners in the Bay Area

Jan 31, 2019

Members of the Mauna Kea Hui, a coalition of petitioners, litigants, and kiaʻi or protectors of the mountain are pictured here at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. They are on a mission to meet with all TMT partners to make a plea to divest from moving forward with the construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.
Credit Laulani Teale / Mauna Kea Hui

Native Hawaiian leaders opposing construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea are taking their grievances beyond the shores of Hawaiʻi to TMT decision-makers and a financier in the Bay Area. HPR’s Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi has more.

As state and county law enforcement prepare for anticipated demonstrations by those opposing construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, many may have been wondering what those calling themselves kiaʻi or protectors of the mountain are going to do.  

“I know no one is afraid of the clash. The kiaʻi are fearless and filled of aloha,” says Pisciotta, “But you know when you put guns and people together at any point, you just increase the chances of something bad happening and we’re just trying to do our best to prevent that, protect the people and protect the mauna (mountain).”

Kealoha Pisciotta is the spokesperson for the Mauna Kea Hui – a coalition of petitioners, litigants, and kiaʻi. This week, they are in the Bay Area putting pressure on individuals and organizations involved with the $1.4 billion project. Yesterday, a handful of Mauna Kea Hui members including Pisciotta met with the head of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, one of TMT’s funders.  

“They’re the largest single donors and in some ways they’ve contribute more than some of the countries that are part of the conglomerate for TMT,” says Pisciotta, “They’re not on the board, but they are influential people in the world you know and they can lend their weight there and we’re not sure that they will but it was necessary I believe for us to come.”

Over the next couple of days, the group is planning a rally at UC Berkeley and a prayer vigil at UC Santa Cruz. Both institutions have staff or faculty who sit on the TMT Board.

“For many of these people it’s about they have investment and this is about divesting, uninvesting in this way,” says Pisciotta, “It’s not to say that astronomy projects don’t have merit, they do. However, our mountain is not for sale there.”  

The group is also requesting a list of University donors and are planning to do similar campaigns with every TMT partner.

“We’re hoping to at least reach out as much as we can and however we can to as many of the partners as possible,” says Pisciotta.

TMT spokesman Scott Ishikawa says they are aware of yesterday’s meeting and fully support the Moore Foundation’s interest to hear all viewpoints on the TMT project. As for the restart of construction itself, he says a specific date has not yet been set.