CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - On Saturday, August 10, a group of Polynesians from the Hawaiian islands, known as The Charlotte Ohana, came together in Kannapolis to raise awareness about the Mauna Kea protests in Hawaii.
The group put on a demonstration filled with dance, prayer and song in light of news that a Thirty-Meter-Telescope (TMT) would be built atop what is considered sacred land by many Native Hawaiians. This dormant volcano was specifically chosen by scientists and astronomers because of it’s sheer height as the tallest mountain in the world - when measured from the ocean floor.
If built, the TMT is due to be 18 stories tall with two stories gouged underground. This would make it one of the largest telescopes ever built - a costly $1.4 billion dollar endeavor.
The quest to build began back in 2015 before it was originally first disbanded by kiaʻi, otherwise known as the protectors of the mountain. To Native Hawaiians, this dormant volcano has long been regarded as a shrine for worship and a home to the gods. Visitation used to be strictly reserved for only the highest chiefs and priests.
The building permit was reconsidered and renewed in 2018 with a new build date set during the week of July 15th, this year.
On Monday, July 15, the kiaʻi assembled peacefully from the early hours of the morning on. Since then, they have held a continuous line of defense in opposition to the build for over four weeks - urging the government to reconsider building anything of TMT’s size on Mauna Kea’s environmentally sensitive, sacred, Indigenous land. Regular observation was suspended on day two of the protests for safety reasons.
While there are other, smaller telescopes atop Mauna Kea, they pale in comparison to the plans of TMT. Extended road blocks via protest have made this the longest that all of the observatories have been shut down since its’ first telescope opened a half-century ago.