The Rock turns up in Hawaii to help protest against giant telescope construction

Ben Arnold
Contributor

Dwayne Johnson has lent his Hollywood notoriety to a protest against the construction of a giant telescope in Hawaii.

The Jumanji star joined hundreds of others at the foot of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and the highest mountain on the Big Island of Hawaii, the summit of which the $1.4 billion 'thirty metre telescope', or TMT, is set to be built.

Demonstrators have been blocking roads for 10 days to prevent access by construction vehicles.

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According to reports, Johnson, who grew up in Honolulu, met with other protestors and also native Hawaiian elders.

He told reporters: “What I realised today, and obviously I've been following this for years now, is that it's bigger than a telescope. It's humanity. It's culture.

Dwayne Johnson (Credit: Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA)

“I wanted to come here and see our people and stand with them and support them.”

There are already 13 other telescopes at 12 facilities on the mountain top, prized by astronomers for its clarity of sight and natural darkness.

However, the land is deemed sacred by native groups.

According to ancient lore, it is the site where the deities of the earth and the sky first met.

“It is without a doubt one of our most sacred places in all of Hawaii,” protest leader Kaho'okahi Kanuha told CNN.

“We are taking a stand not only to protect our mauna and aina, our land, who we have a genealogical connection to. We are fighting to protect it because we know if we cannot stop this, there is not very much we can fight for or protect. This is our last stand.”

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“We recognise that people have expressed strong emotions about that, and we regret that," a spokesperson for the TMT added

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson speaks onstage during "Spike's Rock the Troops" event held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor - Hickam on October 22, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Spike)

“We've been part of the Hawaii Island community for over 10 years, and we have tried to do the right thing, with consideration for the environment, the culture, the economy and the future of Hawaii Island.

“But we know that TMT has become a symbol for larger issues within the native Hawaiian community. While we haven't been privy to the State's security or enforcement plans, like everyone else in Hawaii, we want to find a way forward that is safe for everybody.”

Activist Walter Ritte told Vox: “This is all we have left, so we aren’t going to move.

“They’re going to have to keep arresting us — and we’ll keep coming right back. The mountain represents us, all Hawaiians, so we’re not going to let them take our mountain.

“We aren’t going to leave her.”

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