House passes resolutions to form Maunakea management working group

The state House of Representatives today passed a pair of resolutions calling for the formation of a working group to develop recommendations for the future of Maunakea governance.

The pair of resolutions, House Resolution 33 and House Concurrent Resolution 41 were introduced by Rep. David Tarnas, a Democrat representing North and South Kohala, following comments by House Speaker Scott Saiki that the University of Hawaii should be replaced as the manager of Maunakea.

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During the full House vote, Tarnas said the working group set up by the resolutions would “allow the Native Hawaiian representatives to speak their perspective and share their perspective to the other members of the working group, and then to the Legislature and to the Land Board.”

“There is an independent evaluation of the (university’s) management plan, and in that independent evaluation, it states while the university has done a good job managing the natural resources on the mountain, they have struggled to really manage the cultural resources on the mountain,” Tarnas said. “And that they have tried, but have not been able to really engage with the Native Hawaiian community in seeking their input on a new management framework on the mountain.

“The university has identified five governance structures, alternatives, and they are really only evaluating one of them — which is the one that has the university as the main manager.”

The university’s master lease of the portion of Maunakea that contains observatories expires in 2033.

Tarnas urged his fellow representatives “not to make this resolution about the Thirty Meter Telescope.”

“It is really about the existing observatories on the mountain, and how we manage the mountain going forward ….”

In voting no, Rep. Gene Ward, an Oahu Republican said the resolutions are about TMT, which he called “the elephant in the room.”

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Only one Big Island House member, Rep. Jeanne Kapela, who represents Kona and Ka‘u, were among the five no votes on the resolution, but didn’t offer any floor comments.

HCR 41 was moved to the state Senate for its consideration.

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