Speech: Lanakila Mangauil on the TMT

Transcript of activist and Kū Kiaʻi Mauna organizer Lanakila Mangauil's speech, delivered at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' Thursday, April 23 meeting, concerning the Thirty Meter Telescope.

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Aloha Mai Kākou.

This movement is something that has opened the eyes of the world. Being on that mauna and seeing so many young people involved is really beautiful. However, our cheeks are soaked with the tears of our kupuna who have come up to give us their blessings.

I am a product of the efforts of your generation to re-introduce Hawaiian culture into our education system; mahalo nui. And it is just like bruddah Kahoʻokahi said: Yeah, you basically created these avenues for us, so now you deal with us [laughter from the room]. We are the products of your prayers; of your sacrifices; of your hard work. We were taught and trained in the traditions of our kupuna, as well as guided to be able to survive in this Western world.

How we have conducted ourselves on the mauna, of all things, is what calls attention to us; the world is watching how we conduct our Kapu Aloha. Thousands and thousands of people have already visited the mauna in just these few weeks. We have spoken to hundreds of visitors to our islands who have come up the mauna; and we talk with them, we educate them. We’ve comforted kupuna who have come up the mauna, but can do little more than cry. We comfort them because we know that they went through their suffering for us; we are the products of your prayers.

We are starting to look at our world in a different way. Yes, we need to be concerned about the way oil prices are affecting our economy. However, our goal should not be to inflate the amount of money we have so we can buy more oil. Our goal should be to think better so we can get rid of oil. In one generation petroleum byproducts were a beautiful new discovery; one generation later, right now, they are a great thing that we rely on and use; but for our generation, we’re the ones who have to deal with the effects of all that. And now our oceans are toxic and our air is polluted. Those technologies, those byproducts—they’re not clean. They’re killing us. I look at our keiki, those even younger than us, and I wonder what the heck is going to happen to them.

The idea of, and the perspective on, progress is much different for many in our generation than it was for those in generations past. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to learn our ʻāina, how the land actually works, and to put it first. What the generation before has called progress, I call suicide.

Are we against technology and science? No. But we want science that is relevant, clean and practical. We’re not against the TMT. Just don’t put it on our mauna. We’ll help you guys find another place to put it. Just not here.

Raymond Carlberg is the Canadian TMT project leader, and he says Hawaii wasn’t even considered a potential site for the TMT when the team started scoping out locations in Chile and Mexico. After accepting an invitation from groups in Hawaii, the summit of Mauna Kea eventually became the preferred site for TMT. Who the heck gave the invitation? So, the idea that Hawaii was the first choice? ʻAʻole.

I’ve spoken with other scientists—people who love their science, but also love and respect their planet—and I’ve asked them what they would do in this situation. And they said to put the telescope into orbit instead. ʻAe! Then you don’t have to worry about it destroying the environment, or pissing off the native people. It’s a bigger cost? OK. We’ll help you fundraise.

My point is humanity needs something else right now. More tangents and more distractions that cause us to look even farther away from our kuleana right here is not what we need right now. Going up there and searching the universe? Maybe one day, when we’ve earned the right to.

You say we need to be looking for a new planet and a new home, I say if we cannot even take care of this one that we don’t deserve it. If we can teach ourselves to be loyal to our home, to take care of our environment as our kupuna did; to become intricate parts of our environment—not an outside entity acting on and corrupting our environment, but an actual part of our environment—then we may actually earn that right. But until that day; wrong mountain, wrong time, wrong people.

Mahalo nui.

(Read more about the OHA meeting in which this speech was delivered here.)

Photo by Will Caron

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