Mauna Kea on the Big Island has been the scene of scientific discovery, but it is also a place of worship for Indigenous people.
Hawaii seeks to reconcile culture and astronomy on sacred mountain
For more than 50 years, telescopes and the needs of astronomers have dominated the summit of Mauna Kea, a mountain sacred to Native Hawaiians that’s also one of the finest places in the world to study the night sky.
That’s now changing with a new state law saying Mauna Kea must be protected for future generations and that science must be balanced with culture and the environment.
Native Hawaiian cultural experts will have voting seats on a new governing body, instead of merely advising the summit’s managers as they do now.
The shift comes after thousands of protesters camped on the mountain three years ago to block the construction of a state-of-the-art observatory, jolting policymakers and astronomers into realising the status quo had to change.