Peter Apo is a sitting trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and runs a cultural tourism consulting company. He’s been a state legislator, the arts and culture director for Honolulu, and a special assistant on Hawaiian affairs to Gov. Ben Cayetano.

When Apo wrote in a recent Civil Beat column that the Thirty Meter Telescope would honor the Hawaiian culture and its historical quest for knowledge, he attracted the ire of some Native Hawaiians who claim the project would desecrate the summit of Mauna Kea that they consider sacred.

“You’re really putting yourself out there,” host Chad Blair said to Apo during the latest installment of the Pod Squad.

“I’m 75 years old,” Apo responded. “What else can life do to me that hasn’t already been done?”

Astronomers contend the TMT would help them peer farther back into the history of the universe, and early Hawaiians, Apo said, were all about “the search for knowledge.”

“It seems to me when you look at the behavior over hundreds of years it simply validates that if, particularly with respect to celestial knowledge, if the TMT were available 500 years ago they would have jumped on it,” Apo said.

Blair and Apo were joined by Civil Beat’s Eric Pape for a discussion of the TMT controversy in particular and Native Hawaiian leadership in general.

Hit the play button to hear the discussion or subscribe to the Civil Beat Pod Squad on iTunes or Stitcher.

The Pod Squad and Peter Apo

From left, Eric Pape, Peter Apo and Chad Blair.

Marina Riker/Civil Beat

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