Rise Like A Mighty Wave

Since its birth in 2010, the movement to protect Mauna a Wākea from cultural desecration has grown immensely. It has transformed into a time of revolution. A resurgence of Native Hawaiian culture. To say that the protectors of Maunakea are against science is incorrect. This is more than just a fight against the Thirty Meter Telescope. This is a fight against cultural erasure, a fight for what is right. To Native Hawaiians, Maunakea is looked at as a shrine of worship and a home to the Gods. According to ancient Hawaiian traditions, Papahānaumoku (the Earth Mother) and Wākea (the Sky Father) created the Hawaiian islands together. Maunakea is considered their first-born and the piko (umbilical cord) of Hawaiʻi Island, connecting the land to the heavens. Thirteen telescopes already reside atop Maunakea, but the proposed construction plan for TMT is significantly larger than anything built there before. If completed, the structure will be eighteen stories tall and over five acres wide.

The list of unjust acts against Native Hawaiians are endless. They have endured through things such as the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, the banishment of speaking ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and dancing hula, the bombing of Kahoʻolawe, and the ongoing appropriation of their culture in media and entertainment. Both Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiian locals have been pushed out their homes because of gentrification, the cost of living, and corporate greed. Hawaiʻi has the highest houseless rates per capita in the nation, with Native Hawaiians making up 42% of the houseless population. Weʻve watched the land we love become an unfamiliar place that only tourists and the rich can afford. Despite not being Hawaiian, as a Filipina who grew up here, I feel a deep connection to my home and want to stay where my siblings and I were raised. Like the great Pualani Case says while conducting ceremony at the foot of Maunakea, because of this, we are rising like a mighty wave.

This photo essay is a documentation of this revolutionary time, taking place at the foot of Maunakea where kiaʻi (guards) reside at Puʻuhona o Puʻuhuluhulu, and on Oʻahu, where support events are frequently being organized.

To learn more about Maunakea and Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu, you can visit their website here. Articles that cover Maunakea can be viewed here. A list of Kānaka and local photographers and filmmakers covering Maunakea can be viewed here.