While respect and aloha were shown, testimony occasionally included direct criticism and pointed challenges to the BOR and UH.
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As tensions mount regarding the construction of the
Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Maunakea, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has facilitated much discussion on campus. Today, one such event took place in which the UH Board of Regents (BOR) held a special meeting at UH Hilo where anyone from the UH community or general public was welcome to stand before their peers and the BOR to voice their concerns.
Over the three-and-a-half-hour meeting only about half of the 120 opinions to be heard had time to be presented. A future meeting will be scheduled to accommodate the people that did not receive a chance to present today.
Members of the UH Hilo community and the general public presented their views to the BOR (sitting in the front row) and peers.
After giving testimony, in a gesture of civility and aloha, a testifier shakes hands with regent.
People line up outside the doors of the UH Hilo lecture hall where the BOR meeting was held.
People listen closely to someone give testimony.
UH President David Lassner listens to testimony. Presentations occasionally included direct criticism and pointed challenges to the BOR and UH.
Presenting an immensely powerful and lengthy position entirely in Hawaiian, this testifier summarized and translated himself in saying: “Wrong people, wrong place, wrong time,” and that “There hasn’t been a movement of the Hawaiian people like this since 1897.”
The room was filled to capacity with people standing in the back and to the sides, the doorways chock-full of onlookers.
An onlooker holds ti. Many people in the room were recording the event.
Members of the audience show approval to testimony just given.
A woman gives testimony to the BOR.
The BOR and audience listen attentively to a woman give testimony.
The crowd’s diversity reflected the local community with business and community leaders, students, faculty and other educators.
Signs with “We are Mauna Kea” were scattered throughout the audience.
UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney (at right in aloha shirt) listens to person giving testimony.
Flags and signs were shown throughout the room.
A member of the anti-TMT group Aloha ‘Āina gives testimony. Most presenters began by criticising the TMT, but then moved onto the deeper subjects of Hawaiian sovereignty and war crimes.
A member of Aloha ‘Āina testifies.
Standing room only.
The presence of the anti-TMT community, Aloha ‘Āina, was considerably larger than the pro-TMT community, and this dichotomy was further intensified by the presence of large colorful signs and red clothing.
A woman gestures as she gives testimony.
Although over 60 people gave testimony, there were another 60 who were unable to express their views to the regents because of time constraints. Another meeting will be scheduled in the near future so those who were unable to speak today can give testimony.
To watch video testimony of one supporter and one opponent, see Big Island Video News. More video of testimonies at ʻŌiwi TV.
Learn about UH’s stewardship of Maunakea.
Photos by Jaysen Niedermeyer, a senior at UH Hilo majoring in marine science and a photographer for UH Hilo Stories.