//Hearing Update 2/15 – PUEO President Keahi Warfield takes the stand

2/15 – PUEO President Keahi Warfield takes the stand

On Day 36 of the contested case hearing in Hilo, the first witness representing a Native Hawaiian group supportive of the Thirty Meter Telescope took the witness stand.

The non-profit group, PUEO, which was named after the Native Hawaiian owl and is an acronym for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities. Many of PUEO’s members are from the Keaukaha area in Hilo, the first Hawaiian Homestead built on the Big Island.

According to PUEO’s website: “We support both culture and education for the people of Hawaii. This is done through a variety of ways and by many different people. Our goal is to create an environment conductive to learning and foster opportunities in Hawaii in technology and culture.

“We are not simply proponents of a single cause, but rather part of a long-term effort to give our youth an option to pursuing jobs on the Mainland.”

PUEO President Keahi Warfield began his testimony late during Wednesday’s hearing. He stated that Hawaiian culture, science and technology can work together to produce a better future for everyone.

“As many practitioners feel that they are being led by their ancestors to protect the mountain and protests anything on it, I am also being led by my kupuna in search of a solution where education and culture can co-exist for the benefit of all people in our island community and throughout the world,” Warfield said in his written testimony.

“I do believe that science cannot exist on Maunakea without acknowledging Hawaiian culture, but that the Native Hawaiians could not have survived without some advances in science and technology,” he said in oral testimony.

Warfield said the group’s intention is to encourage more Native Hawaiians and local students to get into astronomy and other STEM-related fields. More science classes related to astronomy need to be taught at an earlier age at the elementary and intermediate school levels to encourage more local students to get into the STEM fields.

“We want to create an opportunity so they can set their own personal horizon,” Warfield said. “I understand and respect history, but we have an opportunity to create history 100, 200 years down the road.”

Because of the availability of certain witnesses for Thursday’s hearing, the last for this week, it appeared the other witnesses for PUEO would testify sometime next week.