TMT Supporting Culture

//TMT Supporting Culture

TMT is committed to a new paradigm of development on Maunakea founded on integrating culture, science, sustainability and education. The TMT project understands the importance of archaeological and cultural sites found on Maunakea and takes their protection very seriously. From the very beginning, TMT and its planners have focused on the protection and preservation of Maunakea culture and landscape.

Part of ceded land held in trust by the State of Hawaii, the the Mauna Kea Science Reserve is conservation land with an area dedicated to astronomies. In the 2000 Maunakea Science Reserve Master Plan, the northern plateau in Area E was identified as the area chosen for the next observatory location because of its lack of archeological, cultural or biological impact. The plan also noted the concerns from Native Hawaiians that no more development on the summit of Maunakea and its pu‘u should be considered and that these cultural areas need to be protected.

“The TMT site and its vicinity were not used for traditional and customary native Hawaiian practices conducted elsewhere on Mauna Kea, such as depositing piko, quarrying rock for adzes, pilgrimages, collecting water from Lake Waiau, or burials. The site is not on the summit ridge, which is more visible, and, according to most evidence presented, more culturally important than the plateau 500 feet lower where TMT will be built.”

– Board of Land & Natural Resources, 2017 Decision & Order, page ii

“The TMT cannot be seen from the actual summit or from many other places on the summit ridge. Where it would be visible, other large telescopes are already in view. It will not block views from the summit ridge of the rising sun, setting sun, or Haleakalā.”

– Board of Land & Natural Resources, 2017 Decision & Order, page ii

“No credible evidence was presented that the TMT would somehow be worse from a spiritual or cultural point of view than the other large observatories. Each observatory received a permit after a process allowing public participation and judicial review, over a period spanning three decades.”

– Board of Land & Natural Resources, 2017 Decision & Order, page ii


Located on a lava plain below the summit, TMT will not be visible from culturally sensitive locations, such as the summit of Kukahauula, Lake Waiau, and Puu Lilinoe. It will be only visible from 14% of the island.


Out of respect for Hawaiian culture and for the protection of Maunakea’s natural resources, we have taken great care to select a site that has no endangered flora or fauna and no known archaeological shrines or burial sites.