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Observatories spiritual equivalent of ancient heiau

“It’s time to lead our people into the future.” So says the website of Imua TMT, a native-led coalition that supports the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea on persuasive cultural, scientific and economic grounds.

On July 29 or 30, the Regents of the University of California will be meeting to discuss the university’s continued participation in the TMT project. As major stakeholders, they have been bombarded by protesters looking to derail the project by any means possible. Meanwhile, the voices of supporters — and there are many — have been conspicuous mostly by their reticence. Here’s a golden opportunity to correct the balance. To say your piece, send written comments to regentsoffice@ucop.edu by July 27.

I stand with the supporters of TMT for several reasons. The way I see it, contemporary observatories are the spiritual equivalent of the ancient heiau. The first Hawaiians found their way to these islands by celestial navigation, and the astronomers of the 21st century are their spiritual heirs. What’s more, jobs and scholarships and educational opportunities associated with the TMT project promise huge economic benefits to the Aloha State. In a post-pandemic world, these factors will loom larger than ever. And to top everything off, TMT is an aina-friendly project with low environmental impact. For a wealth of further fact-based, reliable information, please visit imuatmt.org.

Matthew Gurewitsch

Kihei

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