Commitment to Maunakea and Hawaiʻi

Maunakea is one the most revered places in Hawaiʻi because of its cultural, historic and environmental significance, as well as being the world’s premier site for astronomy in the northern hemisphere. The University of Hawaiʻi is privileged to be responsible for the stewardship of Maunakea and for guiding a thoughtful approach to astronomy research on the mauna.

The purpose of the 65-year lease granted to UH by the State in 1968 was to operate the Maunakea Science Reserve as a scientific complex to establish astronomy in Hawaiʻi. UH was spectacularly successful at this, but a 1998 State audit critical of the university’s overall management of the mauna made it clear that the privilege of stewardship carries an even greater responsibility to mālama, to care for, Maunakea.

UH Stewardship of Maunakea

UH has made great strides since 1998. An Independent Evaluation Report commissioned by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and released in 2020 stated, “We heard many comments that the cultural and natural resources on the state conservation lands on Mauna Kea are some of the best managed and protected lands in the entire State.”

In 2017, the Hawaiʻi Historic Foundation presented UH with a Preservation Commendation Award, the foundation’s highest recognition of preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and interpretation of the state’s architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage.

In 2014, the State auditor conducted an extensive follow-up (PDF) to the 1998 audit and observed: “We found that UH has developed several management plans that provide a comprehensive framework for managing and protecting Mauna Kea while balancing the competing interests of culture, conservation, scientific research and recreation.” Subsequent reviews (PDF) by the State Auditor have shown continuous progress and improvement.

UH acknowledges that there is much more that needs to be done and that stewardship is an ongoing, ever evolving commitment. The university remains steadfast in its commitment to continually improve its stewardship of Maunakea

The Center for Maunakea Stewardship

The Center for Maunakea Stewardship is responsible for the strategic implementation of stewardship programs, planning, permitting, compliance oversight, outreach, and research and academic coordination, as well as for fiscal planning and management.

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