HONOLULU — Sen. Kurt Fevella (R – ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages) has issued an open letter to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the consultant recommending that the University of Hawai‘i be replaced as the steward of the department’s Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan by a nonprofit Native Hawaiian group or groups that the senator believes will be a better “caretaker of the ‘aina of Mauna Kea” than UH has proven to be “ever since the first telescope was proposed and built there 50 years ago in 1970.”
The DLNR is currently having an outside consultant, Ku‘iwalu Consulting, whose principal is Dawn Chang, conduct an independent evaluation of how well UH is managing the CMP.
Fevella, who is Native Hawaiian, states in his letter that “the dismal record of mismanagement of Mauna Kea” by UH “has been fully documented since state audits finally began, belatedly, in the 1990s. For example, waste from the operations was allowed to accumulate for years (and) removed only after an audit revealed such waste. The UH, as manager of the CMP, should never have allowed this to happen to the sacred ‘aina.”
He notes further that “the man-made developments on Mauna Kea have not benefited the people of the Big Island and the state of Hawai‘i in terms of permanent jobs. Only a handful of Hawai‘i resident professionals have been hired. Most of the permanent jobs have gone to scientists who have moved to Hawai‘i from outside this state.”
Fevella advocates that the CMP be instead be managed by “a Native Hawaiian nonprofit or a group of Native Hawaiian nonprofits educating the public as to the Native Hawaiian traditions of Mauna Kea.”
He also states that during the 2021 session of the state Legislature he will propose that all man-made structures, including telescopes, be removed from the mountain.
“Only when Mauna Kea — sacred to us Native Hawaiians — is made pristine and un-scarred will it breathe again — and it, in turn, will breathe life back into the Native Hawaiian cultural traditions associated with the sacred mountain,” he wrote.