Categorized | Opinions

Hara: Night access on Maunakea

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Andrew Richard Hara | Special to Hawaii 24/7

I am speaking today as a professional photographer and as someone born and raised on this island. I make my living as a photographer and in that capacity I have officially photographed several Maunakea observatories, shook hands with some of the finest people involved in scientific research, from telescope technicians to NASA’s Chief Administrator. I have worked more nights than anyone I know photographing our night sky from the summit. In consideration to our aina, I have also worked to develop international interest by connecting with National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, and several other key organizations to help protect our native forests through environmental conservation. I firmly believe that photography is a powerful educational tool to creatively inform and inspire.

I am very proud that we are known throughout the world as the best place on Earth to study the universe. My concerns regarding access are not only personal, but socioeconomic. Aside from my own portfolio aspirations to have continued access to the summit in the evening, the ramifications of preventing star gazers and astro enthusiasts from visiting Maunakea will be significant. As a friend with the Big Island Visitor and Convention Bureau shared with me Hawaii Island’s “nightlife” is far from Waikiki, it is the appreciation of supreme nature, from active volcanoes to unprecedented views of the Milky Way.

The world is looking toward our island as a portal to merge our cultural integrity with the most progressive of sciences. I am afraid that our term “Aloha Spirit” in our islands have been dwindling on authenticity and merely have become a passive aggressive gesture to “politely” drive agenda. I have kept quiet, but the manifestation of hatred coming from anti-TMT rallies have not only inspired more hatred, but have evolved a loving community into defensive positions which have created an environment where no one can come to possibility of agreement.

And while there are difficult times at hand, shutting the entire mountain down after sunset is not the right answer. It is showing inability to find resolution to sensitive matters. I highly respect my neighbor Hawaiian brothers and sisters, as I do my government for being able to manage complicated issues, however there must be compromise on both ends using ho’oponopono to inspire us to move forward.

I challenge our government to take the higher road for current and all future endeavors, to find respectful solutions for our cultural practitioners, scientists, and the majority of indirect public bystanders being dealt collateral damage. If the DLNR wants support, then they have to support us. If we indeed practice “Aloha Spirit”, I demand that our government inspect those notions of what it means to live Hawaii to help all of us protect and empower our land together.

Mahalo nui loa,

Andrew Richard Hara
Hilo, Hawaii

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