New Zealand residents have joined hundreds of native Hawaiian protesters who are opposing the construction of a $2 billion observatory on top of Mauna Kea, a sacred mountain in Hawaii.
Protesters organized the rally to show their support for Hawaii at Aotea Square in Auckland, New Zealand on Monday, according to RNZ. They came wearing red and yellow and brought Hawaiian flags to show their opposition to the construction of the giant telescope.
“I think it’s really important that as people of Polynesia, that as Maori, we come out and we support Kanaka Maoli on these kinds of issues,” Mera Penehira, a protester, told RNZ. “It’s critical in this day and age, that as indigenous peoples we band together globally to support each other and the protection of our sacred lands.”
An estimate of 1,200 people have been blocking the road access leading to the mountain in an attempt to stop the construction of the 30-meter (98.4 feet) telescope on the mountain that native Hawaiians used to connect with their gods.
“This isn’t a new struggle, we’ve been struggling against telescopes on the mountain for decades now,” Victoria University Pacific Studies lecturer, Emalani Case, told Newshub.
“The destruction that they’re going to do to our most sacred place in order to build that telescope is immense,” Case added. “For us, as people who connect to this mountain genealogically and believe it to be an ancestor, that is the ultimate disrespect.”
Astronomers chose the mountain as it is the highest point in Hawaii being 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above sea level, as said in the report. That combined with the $2 billion funding to build the giant telescope, would allow astronomers to be able to take a glimpse back to the beginning of the universe.
However, some in the scientific field have sided with the locals and have signed a petition to oppose the building of the giant telescope.
“Why are we spending all this money and time on a telescope when we really need to be taking care of our earth?” Case said.
Featured image screenshot via YouTube / KHON2 News