An Open Letter to the Governor re Mauna Kea


Dear Governor Ige,

Because we are Hawaiian Cultural Practitioners and are fairly well-acquainted with Mauna Kea, on April 8, 2015, Paul Neves and I guided you and your party to the summit of Mauna Kea. I have made pilgrimages to the summit a few times since that momentous trip up there with you.

One of my primary activities of my cultural practice is to walk in the footsteps of my ancestors – and i have walked over many parts of Mauna Kea, including having my cultural hiking group – Huaka’i i na ‘Aina Mauna – in 2002 – hike from sea level at Koholalele Landing, at Kukaiau, on the Hamakua coast, to the summit of Mauna Kea, following the Umikoa Trail, then descending the Skyline Trail, crossing Pohakuloa Training Area and following the Kona Highway to the vicinity of Pu’uAnahulu, then hiking the Pu’uAnahulu-Kiholo Trail back to sea level at Luahinewai, at Kiholo Bay on the Kona coast.

I am desirous to ascend Mauna Kea again – but I hear that you have illegally placed certain restrictions on cultural practitioners (such as me) to be able to go up the Mountain only at 1 p.m. on a daily basis in a group of less than 10.  And I understand that the reason for this restriction is that you have declared the road to be unsafe, making it a public safety issue.  But what I don’t understand is that the observatory people have access to go up and down the Mountain.- with no limitations.  It seems to me that if the road is unsafe for cultural practitioners, that it would be unsafe for astronomers and the public.  Do they sign disclaimers or something of that sort – to be able to do what they are being allowed to do?  If so, I’m willing to sign a disclaimer too.  In other words, I’m willing to disclaim the risk of using the road that you have declared to be unsafe.  However, I hear that there are no restrictions for cultural practitioners who are willing to hike.

Well, back to my wanting to ascend the Mountain.

Despite having a hypertensive condition, and suffering from a side effect of gout, I thought I’d visit the summit area on Sunday, leaving the HalePohaku Visitors’ Center area at 5 a.m.  As you are a relatively young man compared to my being 79 years old – I would love to have you share the hike up the Mountain with me.  We can do this by ourselves – and you can give your bodyguards the day off – as there won’t be any of those “unruly,” young Protectors on the road that is being restricted to them.  And since they will be escorted up the mountain by one of the Mauna Kea rangers when they can come up at 1 p.m., things should be quite secure.  And since there will be just you and me – we’ll be able to enjoy the spirituality and serenity of the Mountain in peace and quiet.  Lake Waiau should be at its shimmering best.  Even if we take our time moving at a leisurely pace, going up to an altitude of 13,000 feet, we should be back to the Visitors’ Center before 10 p.m.

There is only one problem – and that is that if my feet swell excessively because of my medications and subsequent water retention – that I’ll have to abort any further ascent at that point – and start down.  Will that be OK with you?

Can I look forward to your timely appearance at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning as we engage in this wonderful cultural (we don’t have to call it religious) activity?  Please make sure, though, that you have good hiking boots, some energetic food and snacks and warm clothes (in case the weather should turn a bit cold).

Thanks.  I’m looking forward to spend a very nice and pleasant day with you.

ku ching

4 replies
  1. Tom Young
    Tom Young says:

    Your point is to preserve the path of your ancestors. Would it not make sense, by the same token, to construct the tools to explore your ancestors’ paths in much deeper time?

  2. Puna Ohana
    Puna Ohana says:

    The TMT will be outdated because when the observatory is expected to be operational by 2024, the same year a 39-meter telescope is expected to be completed in Chile. So it isn’t even necessary, to explore the unknown, while we neglect the known abuses and corruption on this planet. Redundant. More stupid human tricks.

  3. ku ching
    ku ching says:

    By 5:20 a.m., at the checkpoint where practitioners’ vehicles had been refused entry at times other than 1 p.m., and not allowing more than 10 practitioners, the governor not having shown up, a companion and I walked/hiked up to the 3.5 mile marker where we turned around and headed back down. We had run out of time. We’ll just have to start out earlier if we want to get up to the vicinity of Lake Waiau (that was our initial destination). After the promulgation of the new “emergency rule” that is applicable to “hunters'” – the “state” hoping to illegally and un-Constitutionally apply it to cultural and religious practitioners like me – compliance becomes more difficult. It doesn’t provide me with much reasonable, legal choice, does it?

  4. Tom Young
    Tom Young says:

    From purely a science point of view, limited as I am in that field, what makes greater sense to me is putting any new telescope in orbit.

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