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Home SCIENCE Prominent Native Hawaiians Appointed to the Mauna Kea Authority

Prominent Native Hawaiians Appointed to the Mauna Kea Authority

HONOLULU (AP) — Gov. David Ige on Monday named several people, including some prominent Native Hawaiian activists, to a new board charged with managing the Mauna Kea summit lands beneath some of the world’s most advanced astronomical observatories.

Two of the eight appointees, Lanakila Mangauil and Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, were leaders of the 2019 protests that halted construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, the latest proposed mountain observatory on Hawaii’s Big Island.

The summit is considered sacred by many native Hawaiians, and protesters opposed building another telescope there. The summit currently houses around a dozen telescopes built since the late 1960s.

In response to the protests, the state created the Mauna Kea Management and Monitoring Authority this year with a new law that says Mauna Kea must be protected for future generations and that science must be balanced with culture and the environment. Native Hawaiian cultural experts will have voting seats on the governing body, rather than simply advising summit administrators as they do now.

All eight nominations must be confirmed by the state Senate.

The authority will have 11 voting members. The other three are representatives of the Land and Natural Resources Board, the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, and the Hawaii County Mayor.

Ige thanked the nominees for being willing to serve in authority.

“Through this new management model, I believe we can find a way for science and culture to co-exist on Mauna Kea in a mutually beneficial way,” Ige said in a statement.

Kamanamaikalani Beamer, a professor at the University of Hawaii and former commissioner of the Hawaii State Water Resources Management Commission, was also named. He was named for his experience managing land resources on the island of Hawaii.

The current general counsel for Kamehameha Schools and former president of Hawaiian Telcom was appointed for his business and financial experience.

The governor selected Rich Matsuda, an engineer who directs community relations for the WM Keck Observatory, from among three names submitted by the Maunakea Observatories.

Matsuda, Wong-Wilson and Mangauil were part of a task force formed by the House of Representatives to develop recommendations for managing the mountain. The working group’s report laid the groundwork for the new law.

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