It seems Mauna Kea herself has joined in the resistance of the construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope. On Saturday, July 18 at about 3 a.m., there was a snowstorm on top of the mountain—in the midst of one of the hottest spells some can remember in their lifetime. The protectors, dressed in sweatshirts and warm jackets, shivered against the cold and rejoiced in the reawakening and reconnection of the people and the mountain.
“This is my confirmation that we are on the right path,” Joshua Lanakila, one of the protectors, said. “We are our land, and our land is us. When we move, the land reflects our movement, and vice versa.”
Lanakila said that across Polynesia this past week, prayers were offered for the protection of the mountain. “We were contacted by people who were gathering in Rapa Nui, in New Zealand, and in Tahiti. Those are the three corners of the Polynesian triangle. It wasn’t majorly advertised, but at approximately 1 p.m., each gathered in solidarity and prayer in connection with Mauna Kea. We also had a delegation from Otera and Rapa Nui with us on the mountain at the same time. There was, at that moment throughout Polynesia, a focus on the Mauna for solidarity and protection.”
“It’s summer in Hawaii and Poli?ahu, the snow goddess, came to grace us in mid-July, the hottest month of the year. This is the power of pule prayer) and believing in your culture and where you come from,” wrote Ku'uipo Freitas on Facebook.
It seemed like the mountain was preparing for her big event. Describing the weather leading up to the snowstorm, Lanakila mentioned a heat wave of 97 degrees. “In my entire life, I have never heard of it getting that hot,” he said. “There wasn’t a major weather system moving in either. This just came out of nowhere.”
On Friday night there was lightening, wind and rain. “We had all the stars and the Milky Way, and yet you could see all the way, under the clouds, across to the other side of the island where the volcano was glowing red. There was all of this elemental force!” Lanakila said.
Lanakila woke up between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. and discovered the rangers had closed the road because it was snowing. “You cannot have a clearer sign,” he said. “The deities of the mountain, especially Puliahu, the goddess of the snow—to be able to manifest that, the snow in the middle of the summer!”
Dustin Barca, another supporter of the mountain, wrote on Facebook, “Poliahu, the goddess of snow, was prayed for and called upon two days ago from many other spiritual points worldwide. Last night in mid-summer, it snowed like it’s December? You think that is just a coincidence?”
Snow fell like December in the middle of July, atop Mauna Kea, keeping the roads closed to construction.
The events of June 24, which resulted in new rules limiting access to the mountain, slightly dampened the energy of the protectors, but Lankaila said the snow has reminded people not to lose hope. He said, “When we are downtrodden, our land is downtrodden. When we lift ourselves up, our land is uplifted. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing.”