The Polynesians who settled the Hawaiian Islands were master navigators who studied the heavens. Kahuna kilo hoku were the experts who identified and named 450 astronomical objects and their paths across the night sky.
The heiau that the Hawaiians built were not only temples of worship and ritual sacrifice, but were also oriented to study heavenly bodies such as the Makali‘i — the Pleiades or Seven Sisters — the appearance of which marked the beginning of the Makahiki.
We should protect the legacy of Hawaiians to study the heavens. In recognition of major contributions made by astronomers based on Haleakala and Maunakea, the international astronomical authorities conferred Hawaiian names on two of the most significant recent astronomical discoveries.
In October 2017, ‘Oumuamua, a scout or messenger from a distant place, was a skyscraper-sized asteroid traveling at the speed of 77,800 mph. It was first spotted entering our solar system by a University of Hawaii astronomer scanning the night sky using a telescope on Haleakala.
In April of this year, the first image of a black hole was named Powehi, taken from a Hawaiian chant meaning the adorned fathomless dark creation.
If built, the Thirty Meter Telescope will be the center of astronomical research in the Northern Hemisphere. The other next-generation 30-meter telescope will be built in Chile, in the Southern Hemisphere.
Let us not abandon our place as leaders in the field of astronomy. Let us not renege on our duty to protect our planet. Let us not forsake our legacy as master sages of the night sky.
Let us instead support the TMT. It is the right thing to do for our future.
Gregory L. Lui-Kwan
The Maunakea Access Road is blocked at its Saddle Road terminus by state law enforcement personnel (Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement) who state they are acting under the orders of Department of Land and Natural Resources’ chairperson Suzanne Case and Gov. David Ige.
The eastern regions of the island’s largest and popular hunting area, the Maunakea Forest Reserve, are accessed at Halepohaku, just below the visitor center, from the currently blocked Maunakea Access Road.
The upland game bird hunting season opened last weekend. In past opening weekends, 500 hunters have traditionally accessed the mountain’s forest reserve, somewhat less than half entering at currently blocked Halepohaku. This year, are they forced to jam up the mountain’s western access at 17-mile distant Kilohana, where increased density will decrease hunter safety?
Why are the hunting community and other law-abiding citizens seeking access to public lands, who have no stake in the telescope controversy, being punished for the state government’s inability to resolve the matter?
Its performance to date is disappointing. The people deserve better.