The same day, another Hawaiian Hollywood actor, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, defended the Mauna Kea protests during his appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” after a visit to the mountain last week.
Protesters have blocked the road to Mauna Kea’s summit for 17 days in an effort to halt construction on the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project set to begin on land considered sacred to some Native Hawaiians.
On Wednesday, Momoa, who is Native Hawaiian, wore a green leaf lei around his neck and a crown on his head as he attended a ceremony at the protest site. Momoa stooped low to present an offering wrapped in green ti leaves. He said he was honored to be there, drawing cheers after saying, “We are not going anywhere.”
“I’m so very honored to be here ... to bring my children and all my ohana here,” Momoa said. “There’s one thing that’s not going to happen. That telescope’s not being built here."
Mauna Kea’s summit supposedly has the best conditions for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere, and supporters of the TMT project believe the telescope will bring jobs to the area and further scientific research. Momoa told Hawaii News Now that protesters are not opposed to science, they’re opposed to the desecration of sacred lands.
On Wednesday night's edition of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson spoke of his experience visiting protestors at Mauna Kea last week. Johnson is not Native Hawaiian but is part Samoan. He was born in California but briefly attended high school in Maui.
“This mountain is their church. It would be like building on this church.” Johnson said on the late-night program. “This is so much bigger than a telescope being built. This is humanity. This is human beings who are hurting.” Johnson continued, talking about the Native Hawaiian men, women, children and elderly “kupuna” protesting on the mountain.
“Let’s be considerate, let’s be empathetic and let’s always take care of our people. Because at the end of the day it comes down to that. Taking care of the people.”
Honolulu television stations live-streamed dancers in jeans and windbreakers performing hula in overcast weather Wednesday as the Big Island braced for the approach of Hurricane Erick and Tropical Storm Flossie over the weekend.
Protesters urged TMT officials to build the telescope at its back-up site in Spain’s Canary Islands. Staff from existing telescopes on the summit meanwhile traveled up the mountain in seven vehicles to secure their facilities with approaching heavy winds.
The observatories negotiated access through law enforcement, Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the East Asian Observatory, told the Associated Press. Dempsey said the observatories haven’t been able to resume viewing because they still must notify law enforcement if they need to take vehicles up to the summit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.