Maunakea: For the Record

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By ʻAnakala Hinano Brumaghim

For the record, in 1968, the University of Hawaiʻi received a general lease from Hawaiʻi Land Board to build a 0.9-meter telescope on Maunakea.

Since 1969, six ever-larger telescopes have “found” their way to Maunakea; namely, UH’s 2.2-meter telescope; NASA’s 3.0-meter infrared telescope; the 3.6-meter telescope built jointly by Canada, France and Hawaiʻi; the 8.1-meter Gemini telescope; Japan’s 8.3-meter Subaru telescope; and the W.W. Keck Observatory’s twin 10-meter telescopes.

To cover their “oversight” failure, the Hawaiʻi Land Board issued “after-the-fact permits.”

Maunakea is on “ceded lands” – land that was “illegally taken from the Hawaiian monarchy at the time of the overthrow and lands that are now being maintained under virtual moratorium until that claim can be addressed and resolved,” wrote Jon M. Van Dyke in Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawaiʻi?

That matter is still pending.

Finally, TMT and the state of Hawaiʻi both need to take heed that Maunakea is a “dormant” volcano. “Dormant” does not mean “extinct” and Madame Pele has her own timetable. Mount St. Helens (in the state of Washington) is also a “dormant” volcano. It erupted violently in 1980. Mount Fuji (in Japan) is a “dormant” volcano. It last erupted in 1707. Maunakea is a “dormant” volcano as well. It last erupted 3,500 years ago. No laila, be advised that if Madame Pele “burps” once, all arguments are moot.


Wayne Hinano Brumaghim is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and the University of Maine where he earned a BA in mathematics/engineering. He served in the U.S. Air Force and lived on the continent until 1984 when he returned to Oʻahu to care for his mother. He retired from the Sheraton Waikīkī in 2005 and returned to school at UH Mānoa, earning both BA and MA degrees in Hawaiian studies in his 60s. He resides in Papakōlea.