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If Most Kanaka Maoli Oppose TMT, It Should Go Elsewhere
If accepted, the telescope project would be of great benefit to Hawaii, but it shouldn't be forced atop Mauna Kea if it isn't wanted.

About the Author

  • Michael Midkiff
    Hawai'i Island born telescope professional, sympathetic to "first peoples" who have had lands and rights stolen.

Telescopes are the “long eyes” we humans use to look deep into the universe … a universe full of wonder, mystery and beauty. To those with limited curiosity, the universe is dead and not worthy of exploring. But astronomy encompasses many sciences such as physics, chemistry and geology that can bring that exploration to life.

Thirty Meter Telescope Mauna Kea

An artist’s view of the Thirty Meter Telescope with laser at night.

Courtesy TMT International Observatory

There are not many places where the kind of science research TMT will conduct are suitable. As far as the Northern Hemisphere, Mauna Kea (Maunakea) is no ka oi. If TMT has no home on Mauna Kea it will find a less suitable home somewhere else — probably in Arizona, where our National Observatory operates on the Tohono O’odham reservation. If accepted, TMT would be of great benefit to Hawai’i but it should not be forced to be in a place if it is not wanted.

TMT can be seen as a desecration by some and a blessing and “wonder of the world” to others. It would bring other high-tech companies involved with electronics, optics, mechanics and software to Hawaii and offer youth opportunities that would help keep the brightest on the Islands. As it is, Hawaii has a brain drain that forces many professionals to the mainland for fascinating and well-paying jobs.

If the majority of kanaka maoli oppose the TMT then it should go somewhere else, for better or for worse. The great Polynesian astronomers and navigators are now extinct, and it appears that may continue.