“Our culture is not for sale.”

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Several thousand people gather at the Vidinha Stadium parking lot, Sunday for a pule ahead of the March to the Mauna demonstrating the Kauai support for people at Mauna Kea opposed to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop the Big Island mountain.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kumu Hula Kehau Kekua sounds the nose flute at high noon, Sunday starting the protocol for the March to the Mauna demonstrating support for people at Mauna Kea who are camped out to protest the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop the Big Island mountain.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A musician and photographer get photos of the crowd gathered on the lawn of the historic County Building following the March to the Mauna, Sunday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Several thousand people flow into the park fronting the historic County Building, Sunday following their March to the Mauna, Sunday demonstrating support for those at Mauna Kea protesting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A passing shower send spectators scrambling, Sunday during the March to the Mauna rally supporting the people at Mauna Kea protesting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A Kauai Police Department vehicle escorts the March to the Mauna, Sunday on Rice Street where several thousand people came out to support the people protesting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Scenes from the “Mauna March” held in Lihue on the Island of Kauai.

LIHUE — Steam rose from the asphalt on Rice Street, as thousands of demonstrators marched in solidarity with the Native Hawaiians, who for the past two weeks have blocked the road to the peak of Mauna Kea, where construction was scheduled to begin on the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The fight over access to Mauna Kea, one of the most culturally significant sites in the state, has been going on for years, but the cause recently attracted national attention, amid escalating tensions that led Gov. David Ige to sign an emergency declaration last week, resulting in the arrest of 33 peaceful protesters.

Shortly after the march began, clouds opened up above the throng of people, who moved like a river of gold and red under Kanaka Maoli banners, signs, and state flags turned upside-down, symbolizing the United States’ occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

The storm seemed to fuel the throng, whose chants grew louder under the falling rain, which stopped almost as suddenly as it started. The heat returned as the clouds cleared, and the marchers moved up the hill toward the Historic County Building.

The demonstration was expected to draw about a thousand protesters, but at least twice that many showed up. People were packed shoulder against shoulder, filling Lihue’s main street from curb to curb, and from front to back, the procession took at least five minutes to pass spectators lining the sidewalks and police blocking intersections.

By about 1:30 p.m. the crowd reached the county building, nearly filling the entire lawn. In front of the steps, hula dancers performed, giving mana to the protesters. The demonstration lasted through the afternoon alternatively serious and contagiously happy.

At times the protest felt more like a celebration. Friends touched foreheads and embraced. Children ran and played on the lawn. The people called back refrains of Hawaiian chants in a single deep voice — the unified sound of people refusing to let their culture be quietly subdued.

“Our people are coming up to a breaking point,” Peleke Flores said. He wore a red malo — a traditional Hawaiian loincloth. “If we let that go now, they can really take everything from us.”

For Flores, the protest is about more than just the Thirty Meter Telescope.

“It wasn’t just a Mauna Kea — it wasn’t just a Hawaii thing. It’s like a world thing,” he said. “We’re all indigenous people that’s fighting that struggle, and we’re just trying to push and stand in solidarity for the rights of the people.”

When asked if he had anything to say to those who weren’t at the protest, one man said simply, “Pray for humanity.”

He stood beside the steps of the Historic County Building under a banner that read, “Pule to our Protectors &all wahi pana. Aloha Aina.” Beside him was a woman who said she just wanted people to understand what the struggle is about.

“A lot of people don’t know what’s going on, and they need to know,” she said. “Whether they’re for it or against it, they just need to know what’s going on.”

A man who said he “just got off the mauna,” climbed the county building steps and told the crowd, “This is about the consistent cycle of neglecting our concerns.”

“The voices of Aloha are standing strong. And Aloha is really changing the world. You guys need to all know that. Aloha is changing the world,” he continued. “And what the message is, is that an attack on Hawaii is an attack on the world.”

County Councilman Mason Chock also gave a brief speech, explaining that the protests and the anti-telescope movement have grown because the Hawaiian people have been pushed to the breaking point.

“You know, it takes a lot for us to step up, but now we have no choice,” he said. “We have no other choice but to stand up and to speak — speak for our kupuna, speak for our future, speak for Mauna Kea.”

James Kaui, a kupuna standing near the back of the crowd, carrying a Kanaka Maoli flag atop a 30-foot kiawe pole, said the march on Sunday was the first time he’s ever been involved in a protest.

“I never did make a movement until last week. And, you know, I been sitting all my life. But praying, cause I had it in me,” he said. “But the movement got me.”

“The people of Hawaii got one responsibility — one kuleana. You know, they gotta take the stand for the kupuna — the kupuna in the past,” Kaui explained. “And the whole thing about it is the Aloha. You know, the Aloha is what Hawaii was about, from the past to present.”

For Cecelia Hoffman, the movement is about one thing — “Change,” she said. “Change for the people and change in the government, so they listen.”

When asked whether the protests can work, Cecelia she said, “Yes. Yes. I believe it can. Definitely.”

Hoffman connected the issue on Mauna Kea to an ongoing dispute between a helicopter tour company operating out of Port Allen and the families who harvest pa‘akai from the salt beds nearby.

“In fact, on the West Side, we’re talking about the pa‘akai. The changes have been made, without even asking for permission,” she said. “I know the government want to help improve things, but if you make the changes without asking God for how to make these changes, it doesn’t work.”

“So, it’s from Niihau to Kauai, up to the Big Island,” she said. “We’re all connected. And I think as people we’re connected to the land. If you don’t take care of the land, how can it take care of us?”

One woman who was asked if she’d like to comment for the newspaper pointed to her auntie, who stood nearby, saying, “She can help you.”

Iwalani Ka‘auwai-Herrod turned around and explained the problem in a simple, common-sense way.

“You know what, bottom line, people are more important than money and progress,” she said. “And our culture is not for sale.”

For Ka‘auwai-Herrod, protesting the TMT is a fight against the erosion of her culture.

“We love Hawaii, and we wanna keep Hawaii,” she said. “We don’t want to lose it.”

Asked if it’s possible to stop the telescope from being built, she said, “That’s what we’re trying to do. And we’re not gonna stop.”

She went on: “We feel like the government needs to include our people. We’re from here. We grew up here. Our ancestors are from here. If we don’t fight for that, it’s gonna be gone. We’re all gonna be gone. It’s gonna be extinct.

“You know — just gone. And that’s what we want. We want our people to continue to live. I mean, it’s not just about movies, nice hula and a little prayer here and there. We matter too. Our lives matter.”


Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Kauaidoug July 29, 2019 7:37 am Reply

    This article is so slanted. People “packed shoulder to shoulder”, “thousands thronged”. Hardly. Take 5 minutes and email Gov Ige your opinion. Come on protesters, you and your keiki live in the 21st century, education is necessary for them so that mistakes of the past don’t happen again. You cannot change horrors of the past but this TMT is a bright and wonderful opportunity for Hawaii, all Hawaiians, to look to the future.

  2. Ron Rodarte July 29, 2019 7:53 am Reply

    If the knowledge from stars is an imperative reason for a desecration of the spirit of humanity, then it is time for knowledge to be focused on humanity once again, and a non-civil society of financial profiteering to be reorganized to enhance love, justice and the prosperity of the most powerful engine in the universe, the human spirit.
    These days we live in are a moment of a planet who’s people, ocean and life processes are being destroyed by the oligarchs who own an economy called capitalism, and the ultimate failure of that system is the popular spread of Fascism that only knows fear, lies and violence as it’s mechanisms, because indeed it has no values, no philosophy and indeed no love of a human kind.
    There is now a popular return to human love and abandonment of the over-reach of a system that has reached for the profit gleaned from misuse of knowledge of universe and physics over the trampled spirit of humanity.
    Only oligarchs will profit from any knowledge gained from a travesty upon the human spirit. The university departments they own and the publications of knowledge permitted to enhance profits will make sure of that.
    Maybe in years to come another place to mount a telescope will become apparent. .
    In today’s fearful reign of American and global fascist oligarchy the people must stand united to claim their humanity and set the path to the prosperity of the human spirit over monied finance and a corporate industrial educational system serving only the massive wealth of oligarchs.
    Knowledge is indeed important and cannot be squelched, but the method of gleaning knowledge must not be reliant in experimenting on living beings or a desecration of the human spirit.

    1. sunandsurf July 29, 2019 10:38 am Reply

      “Thousands of people packed shoulder to shoulder…….” IS accurate.
      The demonstration was held in an attitude of Kapu Aloha, very respectful and positive and beautifully done. The Mana and feeling was very strong.
      As has been stated over and over this movement is NOT just about the TMT.
      Nobody is against science. That’s just rhetoric.
      I choose people over business and (over) development and stand firm with the Hawaiian People.

    2. Dt July 29, 2019 2:18 pm Reply

      This makes no sense at all. Do the other non capitalism societies not pollute the earth? If so China would look like Singapore, and it doesn’t. Technology is needed to feed the world. What is supposed to be used to feed the world? Love and herb?

  3. Objectivity July 29, 2019 8:01 am Reply

    Dumb. Just dumb. Of all the projects to decide to be against, the TMT just makes no sense. A telescope’s one job is to gather light … It is literally the Hawaiians protesting for the right to remain in the dark.

    We hear a lot of talk about Mauna Kea being “sacred.” The word means “to set apart”. Mauna Kea IS sacred … not because it is the mother mountain of Hawaii that gave birth to all the other islands. It is the tallest mountain in the most isolated place in the world. It is this distinction that makes it the best place to put the world’s best telescope.

    By protesting and obstructing this project design from the ground up to be for the good of humanity and the good of Hawaii the native Hawaiians are not increasing their standing in the world. They need to find a way to honor and promote their culture without being bound to mythology in a way that restrains them.

    1. Jake July 30, 2019 7:07 am Reply

      Well said. There is no Federal State, or County written, or otherwise, Bill, Amendment, Law, which defines “sacred”. It is only an opinion.

      The opinion of 80% of Hawaii is to build it. Stop the madness!

  4. Debra Kekaualua July 29, 2019 10:55 am Reply

    Buahahahaha! Fifty years I have T o l d y’all So! The Huli has arrived! mAhalo ke Akua. NEXT is the 90-day exit strategy, where all u.s.a terrorisms will be dismissed beginning with naysayers from the garbage island newspaper, where haole “skewed” is the the adjective that defines Hewa! ku kiaʻi mauna and nixing americanization is the plan.

    1. Dt July 29, 2019 9:42 pm Reply

      Fifty years of hate. Wow, the aloha spirits must be so proud if all that mana. Kapuna supposed to be wise. I have no idea what happened here.

      1. Debra Kekaualua July 31, 2019 6:25 pm Reply

        You’re the one who used the “H” word. That identifies many of the dumb remarks like returning to human sacrifice. After all, it is those europeans, transplants and newbie that together with their comrades undereducated to what is truth and integrity!

        Game Over
        Warriors 3, Regime Zero

  5. Larry July 29, 2019 12:20 pm Reply

    And thanx for the traffic jams we all love

    1. God Bless You July 30, 2019 7:34 pm Reply

      @DT please do your homework. China is a capitalist nation, in action. Science will tell you that putting a nuclear powered telescope on top of highest peak of the Big Islands, aquafor will insure no one will be able to grow food and “Be fed” if any leakage happens. I encourage you to find morality in what messages you broadcast because you are after all speaking about humans with real hearts that beat. I pray you find the education you need.

  6. NaNaNa July 29, 2019 2:28 pm Reply

    I must be confused. I thought Hawaiian culture was not valuing education, obesity, and sitting around blaming others for the inevitable results.

  7. Mynah July 29, 2019 3:46 pm Reply

    How is a telescope an attack? This article does very little to explain the controversy.

  8. Boots on the Ground July 29, 2019 4:40 pm Reply

    Maika’i no!!! Momoe aku I mua!!! I mua, I mua a lanakila!!! Lopaka!!!

  9. uncle July 29, 2019 6:32 pm Reply

    This is such hypocrisy! I am a 41 Year kamaaina, “locals” litter more trash more break more laws then “outsiders” basically purposefully ignorant and angry. I know so many Hawaiians with good jobs ? careers that are appalled at this protesting.

    you talk about scared! okay why you get drunk, smoke pakalolo, have trucks bigger taller than MAUI?
    Budweiser 36 packs, listen to reggae (NOT HAWAIIAN) eat pizza not Hawaiian, eat fired Chicken not Hawaiian, eat cake not Hawaiian, drink soda not Hawaiian, have 55″ Tv , Costco cards, visa cards, bank accounts. you no more believe your family’s mana is on that mountain then you do in the shark one guy just caught then grilled on the beach. this is just anger without any foundation. you do not even know why you are mad.. mad to just be mad…..GROW UP ALREADY

    1. God Bless You July 30, 2019 7:42 pm Reply

      Dear Uncle,
      I wonder if you use that name because the respect custom of this place, Hawaii, has allowed you that. I pray you find morality in the messages you post that these messages feed your soul. Spreading hatred and ill intended stereotypes is not what this forum should be about. Perhaps going somewhere else to be “kamaaina” would help you see more beauty in this world as it seems Hawaiians shopping at Costco grinds your gears. Perhaps you know other solutions to frugality in an increasly expensive Hawaii? Praying you find a “grown up” community wherever you chose to go, as it seems you have the priveledge to judge others and chose where you call home. This is the only home Hawaiians will ever have.

  10. John Patt July 29, 2019 7:00 pm Reply

    The TMT is not about the past. It’s about the future, especially of our children. We have mostly low paying service jobs here for na opio to look forward to. That and death-end meth and heroin dealerships. What about the 300 construction workers who will have to look elsewhere for good paying 10 year jobs? What about giving our children a chance to aspire, to grow their minds, to look into the universe, to build their self-respect. Give our children a chance. Build the TMT.

  11. Erik July 29, 2019 7:19 pm Reply

    My background is that I moved to Kaua’i in 99 to find a place that feels like home and to grow roots that can grow to produce a life that is sustainable and that helps my community. Being an outsider and with a humble respect for Hawaiian culture my feeling is this….”Science” and telescopes have not done much to help the people. “Science” does have a benefit for humanity but it seems, from my viewpoint, that when a scientific discovery is verified then the folks that make the discovery then do everything they can to monetize it for their benefit at the cost of the local and working class. So it seems that to promote the TMT over the will of the people based on a “benefit” is invalid. If the people of Hawai’i do not want this construction on their sacred and revered Mauna Kea then that is the end of the conversation. Respect the Hawaiian’s peoples voice. If Ige and the “Government” of Hawai’i do not respect this then the message is very clear, as always, that the occupation is not benevolent.

  12. Kalapaki joe July 29, 2019 10:04 pm Reply

    Why don’t we bring back human sacrifice…..that was once part of Hawaiian culture. I don’t care what fairy tale your ancestor made up,How about we enforce the law.

    1. Lethal Selecta August 20, 2019 10:34 am Reply

      Are you volunteering Kalapaki Joe?

  13. doug henry July 30, 2019 9:16 am Reply

    if the telescope is not the issue, then what is the issue? Explain it so everyone know what the problems are.

  14. Makani B. Howard July 30, 2019 3:17 pm Reply

    Part of the culture was slavery, too. Let’s bring that back!

  15. andy July 30, 2019 8:04 pm Reply

    Nuclear-powered telescope? This conversation has devolved way past uninformed speculation and superstition into sheer idiocy! Hmm, come to think of it, that’s one of the main reasons we need science: so that all of us “regular” folks out here can better understand and appreciate this incredible universe we are a part of!

  16. Boots on the Ground July 31, 2019 9:57 am Reply

    There are good and bad apples in all peoples. Not all Hawaiians litter or wish to be in chains “arrested,” but a people oppressed are usually target by laws that are made to suppress them. We have had our land, history and dignity taken from us. We are just asking PEACEFULLY for it back, unlike our “Nations Violent Past.” I say our as the United States of America is ours too. You tried to colonize us, but really we colonized you.
    Hawaiians, Hapa Maoli, Kupa Aina, “Part Hawaiians” are the silent and quite majority. I’m sure if it wasn’t for economic intimidation more would voice their opinion and too would say we are tired of being put down and would prefer our own Nation to call home and to control this island chain we belong too.
    We are dealing with our GENOCIDE, GENTRIFICATION, and down right thievery in a peaceful way. Yet still no respect from opposition to our cause. Do we need a Hawaiian Malcom X or a African National Congress, who now control South Africa. I’m sure they are happy apartheid is done and they are in control or ask India.

  17. Boots on the Ground August 1, 2019 7:45 am Reply

    Andy how do you purpose a building 16 stories, the size of four foot ball stadiums, four stories deep, be made on Moku Keawe largest aquifer? There are no power lines. Maybe a little solar. Don’t think it will be gas powered. So really?

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