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How TMT Has Given Rise to What it Means to be Hawaiian
The conflict over TMT has heightened awareness over what it means to be Hawaiian. The idea that Mauna deserves respect is now the common denominator connecting us all.

In our deepest struggle for cultural preservation and aloha aina, we as Hawaiians have received the most meaningful reward of all: the boldest awareness of what it means to be Hawaiian and to love what belongs to us.

Hawaiians exemplify kapu aloha. We fight for justice for our people, our land, and our culture. We stand fierce in the face of adversity. We remain undeterred because we act on what is righteous from what we feel in the depths of our naau.

From the beginning of the media frenzy and international popularity of our mission to preserve Mauna a Wakea, the protectors on the Mauna and supporters worldwide made it clear that Hawaiians are present, engaged, have a voice and will not back down.

Mauna Kea supporters leave their signs along access road after DLNR officers and TMT workers turn around. 25 june 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Mauna Kea supporters leave their signs along the access road to the summit.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It must be acknowledged that even among Hawaiians, we do not always have a collective voice, and some opinions differ in regard to being pro-TMT or anti-TMT. However, the one common denominator that we can all acknowledge as Hawaiians is that our Mauna deserves respect.

We are rising up as Hawaiians to show respect to our aina, and in doing so, the future generations of Hawaiians, our keiki, have learned what it means to have love and aloha for our culture through this example of how we malama our aina. The keiki are the next wave of stewards of our heritage, land, and cultural practices.

The most refreshing experience of all for me is seeing my nephew, who attends preschool at Kawaiaha’o Church School, understand the connection between our aina and our culture at the age of 4 because of the way that everyone has shown aloha to the Mauna. This experience will mold him into a Hawaiian who will always stand true to what is pono.

This fight is technically about a telescope, but more generally about the broader implications, life lessons and cultural connections that have
been instilled in us as a result of the TMT conflict.

Something positive can always come out of adversity. In our current struggle, we have clenched on to our sense of culture and what it means to be Hawaiian. We have shown love — to the Mauna and to each other. Moreover, we have learned that love has no boundaries.