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Mana for Mauna Kea

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Community members gathered along Maunaloa Highway in solidarity with the Mauna Kea movement. Courtesy photo.

Ongoing efforts to protect Mauna Kea’s peak, considered sacred by Native Hawaiians, from an 18-story tall structure called Thirty Meter Telescope, has gone international, with Molokai residents joining in the protests and social media buzz.

Pictured here, local community members rallied along Maunaloa Highway last week, holding signs and raising awareness.

Mauna Kea’s peak is viewed as one of the most sacred sites in Hawaii, and Molokai activist Walter Ritte is leading efforts to protect it from a 14th telescope.

“There’s certain places where you just cannot compromise anymore. There’s just too much that’s been lost in the Hawaiian community. So I think this is gonna be one of those positions where the Hawaiians are gonna come out and demand that they protect this sacred mountain. And I think we’re gonna win,” Ritte told KHON2.

Called the world’s largest telescope, Thirty Meter Telescope would be constructed with funding from five nations and allow scientists to see 13 billion light-years away, according to Civil Beat.

Demonstrators have been holding a 24-hour blockade on the mountain’s frigid peak since April 1, even after more than 30 protesters were arrested last week for blocking construction crews. A peaceful protest has been ongoing for several years, but in the past several months has gathered more momentum and support from Hawaiians and others around the world, according to an organization called Sacred Mauna Kea.

Sacred Mauna Kea Hui Facilitator Kamahana Kealoha said endangered species and the health of Hawaii Island’s freshwater aquifer are at risk, as well as the potential desecration of iwi, or Hawaiian burials, if construction moves forward.

Gov. Ige announced last week that construction would be postponed until April 20.

While protests began as an objection to an additional telescope, Ritte and others said the call to action has become much bigger.

“…At this point in time, it’s becoming a rallying call. We feel that if we’re not gonna be able to save that mountain, we’re not gonna be able to even save the Hawaiians,” said Ritte.

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