Maunakea COVID-19

Kū Kiaʻi Mauna protect protest site from further spread of the disease, while the Maunakea Visitor Information Station closes temporarily

Editor-in-Chief Rosannah Gosser

The protectors of Maunakea, known as Kū Kiaʻi Mauna, are in the process of moving their encampment in an effort to take preventative measures against the spread of COVID-19. Stationed at the intersection of Mauna Kea Access Road and Daniel K. Inouye Highway since July 2019, the site of the protector’s resistance to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea will now be consolidated at the base of Puʻu Huluhulu.

Photo of a road sign indicating Mauna Kea Access Road with a right arrow.“We feel confident that the mountain is safe for the time being while the world deals with this pandemic”

A press release from Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu on March 14 asks supporters to refrain from visiting the encampment and for all kiaʻi to abstain from physical contact in order “to do our part to help curb the proliferation of COVID-19.” Additionally, the Puʻuhuluhulu ʻohana has recommended that kūpuna and those with a higher risk of respiratory illness stay at home.

Dr. Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, a native rights activist among the group of kūpuna who have been camped at the base of Mauna Kea Access Road since July, emphasizes that the protectors are merely moving, rather than closing, their encampment site. “We feel confident that the mountain is safe for the time being while the world deals with this pandemic,” she tells Ke Kalahea.

Meanwhile, operations have been temporarily suspended at the Maunakea Visitor Information Station as a health and safety measure. Although access to the summit is still available to the public, officials encourage visitors “to follow health department recommendations on social distancing and protection.”