17 Jul 2015

NZ ceremony to support Hawaiian telescope protest

7:58 pm on 17 July 2015

A ceremony to show support for Hawaiians fighting to stop the world's largest telescope from being built on ancestral land will be held in Auckland tomorrow.

The $US1.4 billion telescope is being built on the summit of Mauna a Wakea on the island of Hawaii, a sacred mountain to native Hawaiian people.

Protest action at the site has delayed construction and protesters have been arrested.

Precious Clark, from Ngati Whatua, sais the ceremonies, which are part of a series of protests called 'My Mountain Speaks', express solidarity with Hawaiian people opposed to the telescope being built on the mountain.

She said they were being held around the Pacific, including Rapanui, Rarotonga and Tahiti.

Ms Clark said protestors are not against the idea of the giant telescope, just where it was being built.

The telescope's mirror, stretching almost 30-metres in diameter, will be able to gather light that will have spent 13 billion years travelling to earth, which means astronomers looking into the telescope will be able to see images of the first stars and galaxies forming.

"It's not anti-science or anti-development, it is anti the development of that particular telescope on that particular sacred site. So here in Aotearoa we are lending our voices to that message."

She said Mauna a Wakea was so sacred that only Hawaiian royalty could step foot on the site.

"It is very significant in the hearts of Hawaiians, which as far as I am concerned, makes it significant in the hearts of all Polynesians."

Ms Clark said the gathering at Okahu Bay would include a mass karanga.

"Our wahine will line the ocean and send out their call through karanga out across the water hitting Mauna a Wakea and those peoples in the Pacific."

The ceremony will be followed by a mihimihi from Ngati Whatua o Orakei and a whaikōrero by guest speaker Dr Keanu Sai from the University of Hawaii.

The ceremony will be at Okahu Bay, Tamaki Makarau on Saturday July 18 at 9am.