TMT Resistance Proclaims Puʻuhonua at Base of Maunakea
Opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope project atop Maunakea have set up camp at the base of Maunakea Access Road ahead of construction, which was allowed to proceed on Monday.
More than 150 kiaʻi (protectors) joined in staking off a five-acre area to proclaim as a Puʻuhonua, or sanctuary and traditional space of safety and peace.
“We know that the State of Hawaiʻi is ramping up for what could possibly be the largest mobilization of law enforcement agencies in recent memory,” said kiaʻi Kahoʻokahi Kanuha who went on to say, “Today was ultimately about the safety of our people.”
Organizers explain that Puʻuhonua were traditional Hawaiian places of refuge and sanctuary where those who were wronged or had done wrong could go to for protection and safety.
“In lieu of the looming confrontation between the State and those who oppose the construction of the TMT, this group of Hawaiians came together to reclaim the practice of proclaiming this functional safe zone,” organizers with the group HULI said.
Kanuha said, “It was about ensuring that we have a safe place to exercise our rights as a people.”
Puʻu Huluhulu is on Hawaiian Homes Trust Lands and is home to an ahu or altar that was erected in 1999 by the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, a royal society established over 150 years ago by Kamehameha V.
According to HULI members, this ahu, that sits at the base of the mountain, was built as a safe place so that kupuna or elders who could not make the trek up to the summit but wanted to acknowledge the mauna in their own way in a sacred space could do so.
“Puʻu Huluhulu therefore makes for a very relevant and appropriate space for this puʻuhonua and this was at the core of the collaborative efforts that took place today between the kiaʻi and members of the Royal Order,” organizer said.
According to kiaʻi and HULI member Andre Perez, research into the tradition of proclaiming a puʻuhonua revealed that the process “required an aliʻi who had the authority to declare” the space.
Given that this royal society has cared for the ahu for years and that they represent the legacy of Kamehameha I, the group concluded that, “the Royal Order of Kamehamehameha I would be appropriate to represent the aliʻi.”
Members have already started to gather and hold space at this puʻuhonua and more are expected to be arriving today for vigils that will be held at the ahu on the hour, every hour, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to HULI members.
The group HULI was formalized in May to build capacity for non-violent direct action, and movement-building for people in Hawaiʻi.