A pair of resolutions was introduced today on the floor of the House of Representatives to form on working group on the management of Maunakea.
The resolutions were expected. House Speaker Scott Saiki said in the Feb. 2 floor session that it’s time to replace the University of Hawaii as the management entity of Maunakea. He added at that time that a resolution would be introduced later.
Saiki also said the university should stop its pursuit of renewal of its master lease of the Big Island mountain, home of Hawaii’s world-class astronomical observatories.
That lease expires in 2033.
House Resolution 33 and House Concurrent Resolution 41, introduced by Rep. David Tarnas, a Democrat who represents North and South Kohala and a portion of North Kona, describes the working group’s purpose as “to develop recommendations, building on the findings of the Independent Evaluation of the Implementation of the Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan, for a new governance and management structure for Maunakea that collaboratively engages with all stakeholders, particularly the Native Hawaiian community.”
The Maunakea plan evaluation, prepared by the economic development consulting firm Ku‘iwalu for the Department of Land and Natural Resources and published in 2020, found, according to the resolution, “that a lack of genuine consultation with the Native Hawaiian community has resulted in greater mistrust of the University of Hawaii and management of Maunakea, leading to polarization between various stakeholders on Maunakea and our communities.”
The working group would be comprised of a chairperson appointed by the House speaker; three House members appointed by the speaker; seven members who are Native Hawaiians to be nominated by Native Hawaiian groups, organizations or communities and appointed by the speaker; one representative from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; one representative from the Board of Land and Natural Resources; one representative from the University of Hawaii Board of Regents; and one representative from Maunakea Observatories.
That group would be tasked with a report to the Legislature of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, by Dec. 31.
A more detailed version of this story will be in Saturday’s Tribune-Herald.