‘The Rock’ Joins Hundreds of Hawaiians Protesting $1.4 Billion Telescope on Sacred Mauna Kea Mountain
Native Hawaiians protesting a massive telescope planned for the top of the island’s Mauna Kea mountain found a new ally in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who recently joined them in their calls to stop it.
Initially set to begin construction in 2015, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a $1.4 billion project designed to be a general-purpose observatory capable of investigating a broad range of astrophysical problems by scientists at the University of California and Caltech.
It has maintained government-level support from Canada, China, Japan and India.
While the U.S. government is also contributing some funding, it is reportedly less than the formal partnership.
While demonstrations against the telescope have been going on for years, locals have ramped up protests at the base of Hawaii’s tallest peak in the last 10 days in a bid to stop its construction.
Native Hawaiians have been against the project, arguing that it will disrupt or destroy a sacred site on the mountain.
In Hawaiian traditional cosmology, the peak of Mauna Kea plays an important role as the site where earthbound and heavenly deities met.
Mauna Kea’s surrounding area is known for its nighttime darkness, attracting many who want to go stargazing. This uniquely inviting attribute has also resulted in several observatories built in the area.
Protesters have expressed their opposition on the project by blocking access roads and taking over government buildings in the area.
Native Hawaiians and allies have also been conducting marches in various cities to raise awareness about the issue.
Embracing and hearing the words of our kupuna brought tears to my eyes too. Why I kept my glasses on:). I’m optimistic we will accomplish our goals. #maunakeahttps://t.co/NKMuamEGua
Protests by the Native Hawaiians have prevented the construction in the past, prompting the university to seek support from the state Supreme Court. The court ruled that the project can commence in 2018.
The Rock, who spent his childhood in Honolulu, recently made a surprise appearance at the base of the sacred mountain to show his support and solidarity with the locals.
“What I realized today, and obviously I’ve been following this for years now, is that it’s bigger than a telescope. It’s humanity. It’s culture,” Johnson was quoted as saying. “I wanted to come here and see our people and stand with them and support them.”
Native Hawaiians are also protesting a $340-million solar telescope planned to be constructed on the volcano Haleakala in the Hawaiian island of Maui, another site considered sacred by locals. The solar telescope is set to be completed by 2020.
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