Hawaii to Host International Astronomical Union (IAU) \ August 3-14, 2015, No References to TMT and Mauna Kea or Haleakala

Hawaii to Host International Astronomical Union (IAU) \ August 3-14, 2015, No References to TMT and Mauna Kea or Haleakala

By Williamson B.C. Chang

Professor of Law, University of Hawaii at Manoa

School of Law

Did you know that the world’s most important meeting of astronomers will be held in Oahu from August 3-14, 2015? If it goes as now planned, per its existing website, there will be no discussion of the TMT blockade or the fight as to Haleakala. There will be no presentation by those who oppose the TMT and the solar telescope.

A trip to Mauna Kea has been planned. But the description leaves out any reference to the TMT controversy:

Maunakea Tours – 3 Day Science Excursion to the Big Island

Let’s jet-away to the Island of Hawaii to explore the amazing locations of the observatories on Maunakea and the Volcanoes National Park.

Available August 7 – 9, 2015.

Includes roundtrip flight from Honolulu to Hilo, 2-night hotel accommodations and all program inclusions listed as part of tour.

Trip Highlights Include:

Day 1: Depart Honolulu for Hilo, Hawaii in the late afternoon

Day 2: Tour the world’s foremost astronomical observatories on Maunakea; Evening private reception at Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii and Planetarium with beer, wine and Hawaiian style pupus

Day 3: Visit to Volcanoes National Park with stops at Thurston Lava Tube, Volcano Observatory, and Jagger Museum; Return to Honolulu, O’ahu

Back in 2008, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly voted that Hawaii will be the location of the 2015 meeting. Hawaii won out over very strong competition from two other sites. According to the existing website, Hawaii was chosen because of Mauna Kea and Haleakala:

The announcement of the IAU’s General Assembly 2015 host was made jointly by the IAU, the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy (IfA), and the Hawaii Convention Center (HCC). Staff members of the IfA, AAS, and HCC worked hard to convince the IAU Executive Committee that Honolulu was the best choice for the 2015 meeting. “The selection of Honolulu is a reflection of Hawaii’s importance in the astronomical world,” said IfA Director Rolf Kudritzki. Hawaii is home to two collections of state-of-the-art astronomical observatories, one on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island and the other atop Haleakala on Maui

So far, there is no sign that this convention has been cancelled. So far, there is but a single reference in Hawaii of this enormously important event critical to the future of Hawaii. [Sunday’s Star-Bulletin Advertiser].

Can there be a more egregious, denigrating, insulting appropriation of Hawaii and the Hawaiian culture than holding the world’s largest conference on Astronomy without a single reference to the TMT controversy on Mauna Kea?

What does this say about official respect for the “host culture” about listening to “both sides”? What was the University thinking? What was the tourist industry thinking? What was the Administration thinking? Did they think they could hide Mauna Kea and Haleakala from the people, namely the astronomers of the world with most direct interest and investment in those projects?

There was an opportunity to organize “splinter meetings that might have been used to provide different views on the Mauna Kea and Haleakala controversies:”

“The IAU General Assembly provides the opportunity for you to hold public or private splinter meetings at the meeting venue in Honolulu, Hawaii.”

Sacred Mauna Kea”, and many other groups, from around the world, would love to organize and participate in splinter meetings, but guess what— the deadline for creating such splinter meetings, June 15, 2015, has passed.
How can this happen? What happened to principle of transparency? Of a forthcoming government?
Unless Governor Ige intervenes to deliberately, quickly and sincerely set up a full scale “shadow” conference, involving all points of view on all relevant points, social, religious, political and legal with formal incorporation in the conference the protectors of Mauna Kea and Haleakala how can government ever be trusted on the TMT and Haleakala—or GMO. Rail or anything else?
Have the protectors shown any reason why the government of Hawaii should hide them? Did they violently disrupt the meetings where the Board of Regents took testimony? As we have seen from the behavior of the protectors—they are sincere, non-confrontational, spirited but absolutely peaceful and respectful. Or, are we embarassed? Embarassed by our “host” culture. The administration and the University did not break the law, but they violated their trust as public and government agencies.
This is propaganda by omission. It is another example of the deliberate failure to tell the “whole truth” about Hawaii, particular about the Hawaiian people. It has apparently become the policy of our government to officially deceive and formally misrepresent Hawaii’s history to the world. This is oppression by exclusion at its worst. One may as well delete the Hawaiian from “Hawaii.”

Of course, the world-wide voice of opposition, the protectors of Mauna Kea and Haleakala will now organize its own parallel “shadow” conference. It will be peaceful, it will be cordial and it will be held with kapu aloha.
The link to the Conference is at http://www.iau.org/news/announcements/detail/ann14024/.

A list of the participants from around the world can be found at a related website.


Pro97144fessor Williamson Chang was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai`i. He graduated from Princeton University with degrees in Asian Studies and from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Thereafter, he attended the University of California, Berkeley [Boalt Hall] where he was an editor of both the California Law Review and the Ecology Law Quarterly. He clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Dick Yin Wong in Honolulu and began teaching at the University of Hawai`i the following year.

Professor Chang has done extensive work in the development of water rights and the state water code. He served as a Deputy Attorney General and represented Chief Justice William S. Richardson in a number of critical property rights cases, such as McBryde Sugar Co. v. Robinson [water], Sotomura v. County of Hawai`i [beaches] and Zimring v. State of Hawai`i [volcanic accretion]. Prof. Chang was extremely active in the development of the state water code and drafted the state water code as a reporter for the Advisory Commission on Water Resources. He also helped to found the Native Hawaiian Advisory Commission where he also served as Litigation Director. While at NHAC, he helped Hawaiians and other register their water rights. He has represented numerous individuals and groups in litigation in state and federal courts, including the Pai Ohana, Public Access Shoreline Hawaii, Catholic Action Peace and Freedom Party and the Kalamaula Hawaiian Homestead Association. He is currently working on an account of the actual history of the United States acquisition of Hawai`i titled: “A Rope of Sand: The United States Annexation of Hawai`i.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s