Māori and Hawaiians unite to stop desecration of ancestral lands

Te Wharepora Hou, Māori Women's Collective today affirm solidarity with their Hawaiian brothers and sister's efforts to protect ancestral lands.  

'Protectors' of Mauna a Wakea have been occupying Mauna a Wakea, a sacred ancestral mountain in Hawaii during recent weeks to stop the construction of the world's largest telescope, towering thirty meters high.

“The TMT project is a direct attack on the physical, spiritual and cultural integrity of Mauna a Wakea. These actions are an attack on the wellbeing of the Hawaiian People and the generations to come. Something Maori and indigenous people understand and have struggled against in our movement for self-determination”, says Te Wharepora Hou member Dr Mera Penehira.

Ka’uhane Lee, Hawaiian educator explains “What needs to be realized here with the strong efforts to protect sacred Mauna a Wākea, and all sacred sites in Hawaiʻi is that any desecration of our ancestral lands and natural resources are like pulling the plug on our life support. Our cultural and spiritual traditions, practices and teachings of caring for all things of life are what feed us and keep us alive and healthy on all levels of our being.”

She states “Another serious matter we are dealing with is the fact that Hawaiʻi is illegally occupied by the United States. Unfortunately, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is part of the U.S. system which makes it difficult for some trustees to take an honest, strong stance to advocate for the majority of people who are against the TMT and to resist and oppose these destructive plans.”

The opposition movement have proved successful. Just weeks ago the construction of the telescope was halted and remains that way. On May 1, there was also a significant back down by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs who dismissed their initial support for the project. 

Although a step in the right direction, many have argued that OHA should have gone further and made a clear statement of opposition to the TMT project.