The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Observatory announced on Dec. 19 that the construction of its proposed telescope on the Mauna Kea mountain in Hawai’i will be delayed due to safety concerns for protesters and workers.

Later that day, Hawai’i Governor David Ige ordered state law enforcement to withdraw from the Mauna Kea site and temporarily stand down from the Mauna Kea roadway. In spite of this, anti-TMT demonstrators plan to remain at the Mauna Kea site to prevent the telescope’s construction.

Native Hawai’ians and their supporters are protesting to preserve indigenous land rights. Mauna Kea is home to archaeological sites and ancient burial grounds. Many Native Hawai’ians continue to perform religious and cultural practices on the volcano, which they’ve revered for generations.

When the TMT International Observatory named Mauna Kea the site for the TMT’s construction on July 24, 2014, a wave of protests ensued. 

UC Santa Cruz students have organized demonstrations in support of preserving Mauna Kea and against the UC’s investment in the telescope. The UC is a full member of TMT International Observatory and has spearheaded the TMT project.

Hundreds of anti-TMT protesters have blocked the roadway to Mauna Kea with tents and other infrastructure since July 15, 2019. For now, the protesters have stalled the TMT’s construction.