Mauna Kea
Public television documentary
News updates
Additional resources


We welcome your feedback regarding this website or the public television documentary,
Mauna Kea – Temple Under Siege. Please send your email to

Here’s what people are saying:

Aloha e Na Maka o ka ‘Aina,

I want to say, "Mahalo nui" for your latest documentary "Mauna Kea, Temple Under Siege." It moved me and also frustrated me that the so-called State of Hawai'i is sooo blind and very disrespectful of our beautiful, majestic Maunawakea!

I am an aquatic biologist working in our streams to protect and educate our community about our unique native stream animals....

I was flabbergasted to learn that those ignorant scientist are releasing their raw sewage into our pristine aquifer which is polluting our streams, ‘aina, oceans and people.

Please keep me informed on how I & my ‘ohana can contribute/kokua you in stopping this injustice to our ‘aina.

Holo Mua,
Momi Wheeler
Kea'au, HI 96749

I am born and raised on Oahu. My father was born in Hilo and his parents moved to Milolii back in the late 50's. My mom is from Oahu, on the Kaneohe side. I now live in Charlotte, NC. I have been away from home since I was 20 but I go back often and have my island in my heart. I am proud to be part Hawaiian.

I watched PBS last night and saw the documentary about Mauna Kea Under Siege. I cried.

How big a role does the University of Hawaii play in this and how come they don't come under more scrutiny about how they are conducting themselves? I understand as a university they want to be involved in promoting science, research, etc. but there is a fine line between supporting programs that are more in their best interest than the public’s.

What I also liked about the documentary was that it was authentic - told from the island side - not a delegated haole or foreign spokesperson. I love that it was so simple, complete with the Hawaiian language and was not negative. It was clear and objectively presented and it spoke volumes about how the Hawaiians feel about their land and their beliefs.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about the fact that I am Hawaiian and what I have as a heritage is so unique.

Mahalo nui loa for all you do.  

Diane Puanani Stalford
Charlotte, NC

I could make this an extremely long and agonizingly disrespectful message, but that would not be a reflection of the totality of my true feelings. I will simply say this, in response to my recent PBS viewing of your well-done documentary on Mauna Kea: Your anger is misguided.

If you consider those beautiful observatories atop that sacred mountain to be a blight and an insult, then you thoroughly miscomprehend the goals of pure science. Were the lands stolen? Absolutely. The United States, much like virtually any powerful entity in history, has made a practice of usurping lands for their own ends, and the wishes and beliefs of the indigenous peoples be damned. That is a deplorable mode of thinking which I condemn.

But I also condemn the overly simplistic, even immature, attitude expressed by those who direct their anger toward the astronomers whose observatories are under threat. It is not the fault of these explorers that the lands of the nation of Hawai'i were annexed; it is not the fault of these guides in wonder that the peoples of Hawai'i have been repressed and have had their culture endangered.

I would fully support the secession of Hawai'i from the United States, and I would call upon the protesters of Mauna Kea development to petition their state legislators to do precisely that. At that point, once successful, you can blow the cursed observatories up, for all I'd care. But until that time arrives, please be thankful that industrialists haven't found a way to put resort hotels and amusement parks atop Mauna Kea -- for you know as well as I that such a notion has been considered. Be thankful that the sacred mountain is being as well cared for as any human entity conceivably could. Astronomers generally have a respect for the human beings which have arisen from the Universe they study which exceeds virtually any respect that so-called religious leaders deign to grant.

In short, the wrong tree is being barked up. It's time to recognize reality and compromise to it. It's unfair to claim that the astronomy community wants it all when simultaneously the spiritual community wants it all.

And your ancestors -- and mine, for we are all related in the deepest, most cosmic way (and I resent the us-and-them notion which was so persistently and bombastically expressed in your documentary, connoting that non-Hawai'ians are mere interlopers, when indeed the entirety of humanity is a single family unit, a fact demonstrable in innumerable ways) -- are not being disrespectfully trod upon. Our forebears are holding us up, permitting us to explore the grandeur of the very Cosmos which gave us existence.

Thank you.
Jason S Rufner

I just watched a broadcast of your film on Mauna Kea, and I was — again!— terribly distressed at what has been done / is being done to the Hawaiian people!! I view all of the beliefs of the earth's indigenous peoples as being sacred and of having meaning that is far beyond our current understanding! All peoples, including my own ancestors (I am Scots, Irish, French, Spanish, Black and Lakota Indian) were at one time land-based peoples, and all have had beliefs that honored the land and animals, plant, water and air — and one day, sooner than later!, all man-kind will recognize the wisdom of these beliefs, and will hopefully have the time to work to repair some of the terrible damage done! Perhaps then the wisdom you have been cherishing and carrying forward will be recognized and welcomed! Please, please do not let go of any of the wonderful, sacred teachings…they are now, and will be, needed !!

I am raising one of my grandsons who is almost 16. His Native American name is Three Bears. I was so very grateful to be able to share your program with him, in order that he might graphically see that where we all came from, as land-based societies, is today as valid as it has always been! He loves the land and values all of life, so what you have shown him has not only taught him about the Hawaiian peoples, but gives him focus as he seeks to find his place in the world! I cannot Thank You enough!!

Piper McNeill       

Letter to the editor


Hawai'i is sacred and should be abandoned and left to the gods for their playground. Sounds farfetched? Not too if you consider the Hawaiian traditionalist movement's view on progress here. The conflict between "spirituality" and astronomy is one of the more recent clashes between progress and traditionalism.

Filmmaker and producer (that's how we give credibility to people, now, we define their career) Puhipau claims that "Mauna Kea is first born of cosmic forces, connecting Hawaiians to the beginning of time." Fantastic. That's the sort of ethnocentric thinking that creates division among us and fosters racism.

Allow me to submit that Mauna Kea has been here for millions of years and the Hawaiians landed less than 2,000 years ago. They may have been the first ones to the party, but we're all here now.

The idea of sacredness is purely subjective. Material cannot be sacred. No matter how high you stack the rocks (Mauna Kea is a stack 13,796 feet high) they can only be sacred in one's mind. That's a belief, not fact.

So what is sacred? Human life, by unanimous agreement — unless one murders or takes away another's dignity by violent force. The bond of parent and child? Even that's not a given. That unique relationship has to be forged in deep love.

So it seems that sacredness is earned rather than bestowed. One cannot simply point to an object and announce, "It's sacred, hands off!"

The nostalgic keepers of tradition have the people of our beautiful Islands mired in stagnation. They would label us trespassers on land and sea because of their tired beliefs. Living human beings (sacred, human life) are told to set aside the potential higher quality of life that science can give us so a stubborn handful of people can steep in tradition and bask in their stagnant lives.

Why do our brightest and best leave and not return? The brightest and best want change, want to improve their lives. Change and improvement simply cannot happen within the confines of tradition.

Paul Flentge
‘Aiea, Hawai’i

Congratulations on your screening of Mauna Kea – Temple Under Seige at the United Nations.  Film is a powerful medium, and your documentary is especially potent.  I trust the viewers will be moved—and that will help the mountain.  Mahalo a nui.

Tom Peek

I saw the Mauna Kea video last night. You did a very good job, beautiful footage, the conflicts were well articulated.

Mahalo for your good work!

Carol Wyban

I watched and I was in awe. You should be commended for all that you do for our people in communicating the struggle for all to understand.

Puhipau, your narration of the video was fabulous. Mahalo nui loa.

Continue your good works.


Mahalo for the excellent production of “Mauna Kea – Temple Under Siege.” I thoroughly enjoyed the film — very inspiring!

The scenes were beautiful but whenever telescopes were shown I felt very sad. I hope that no more will be built — there’s too many.

I go to the Big Island to visit my brother and sister who live there and I love looking up at Mauna Kea.

Mahalo nui loa,

Kawena (Mabeth) Peterson
Wai`anae, Hawai’i

Kudos! I really enjoyed it! Beautiful photography combined with a story well worth telling. I had no idea that there were so many telescopes up on the mountain, and also how much of an effect that was having on the fragile landscape there.

Thank you so much for producing a valuable statement.

Janet Sierra


| P.O. Box 29 Na'alehu Hawai'i 96772-0029 | Ph: (808) 929-9659 | | Website: Still Point Press & Design Studio