Understanding the Past, Navigating the Present, Embracing the Future
August 9, 2019
Ed Stone, Executive Director; Christophe Dumas, Observatory Scientist; and Gordon Squires, Vice President, External Relations
It is no coincidence that the ideal location to peer from Earth into the heavens is here in Hawaii. The Island of Hawaii has been the home of TMT for more than a decade. But for much longer than that, it has been a place where science and spirituality are woven into the fabric of every-day culture.
We think it’s fair to say that what is happening today in Hawaii isn’t just about the construction of TMT on Maunakea. Among those who remain opposed are many who see TMT as a platform for what they believe is the wrong side in the much larger political issue of Hawaiian sovereignty and past injustices. We respect those who express opposition and understand the pain they feel. However, TMT is a bystander in that larger conversation that has been going on for many years. And whether or not TMT is built in Hawaii will not bring closure to it.
Although it may not appear this way at the moment given what is being shared and seen in social media, the majority of Native Hawaiians actually support the construction of TMT on Maunakea: An independent poll conducted by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in 2018 found that 72 percent of Native Hawaiians (registered voters) support TMT, 23 percent oppose it and 5 percent were un-decided.
Similarly, many Native Hawaiians and others believe that Maunakea is sacred and yet can still be home to astronomy. A statewide poll conducted in 2018 found that 88 percent of Hawaii resi-dents agree there should be a way for science and Hawaiian culture to co-exist on Maunakea.
We are dismayed by the many false accusations being spread. We are dismayed that TMT supporters are being shown such great disrespect that some have become afraid to speak publicly.
We have a lot of supporters in Hawaii and they are asking us not to leave.