New Wind Farm Can’t Blow Away Protest


Courtesy of Kawena Phillips

With the protest happening on Mauna Kea, many locals are inspired to take action and defend Hawaii’s native land

With the ongoing protest happening on Mauna Kea, other locals are being inspired and now another protest is well underway. However, rather than taking place on a mountain, this is happening right here on the island of O’ahu.

The Na Pua Makani wind farm project is a new wind energy project that is focusing on making O’ahu become energy independent by converting the wind from the North Shore into a renewable power for the island.

The protest started on Oct. 17 with the protestors forming a blockade to stop the turbine-part convoy that was traveling from Kalaeloa to Kahuku.

“I absolutely think that what is happening at Mauna Kea has inspired this resistance here on O’ahu,” said 26-year-old Native Hawaiian Thomas-Ryan Cleek, who has been involved with community efforts to restore Hawaiian cultural sites since 2016 and has gone before Hawaii State entities to plead on various issues, more specifically regarding Kalaeloa Heritage Legacy Foundation and Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill.

Third-year Chaminade University student Edward-James Adachi is a Native Hawaiian and supports the other Native Hawaiians and activists in their freedom of speech and right to assemble. He said that the issue if the wind farm goes beyond goes beyond putting up bigger turbines.

“There is a new wave washing over the democracy of Hawaii,” Adachi said. “Native Hawaiians want change and need to be heard.”

Another CUH student is a freshman originally from Maui but moved to O’ahu, asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject, has a different view on it.

“Being a Native Hawaiian, I am proud that my people are coming to together as one to speak out and letting their voice being heard no matter what,” the student said. “But I feel like we need change.”

Cleek’s believes that with the installation of the wind farms, the wildlife in the area will suffer.

“To me, the wind farms represent a threat to the ecological sanctity of our islands,” Cleek said. “Avian animals especially have a profound role in both our ecosystems and the Native Hawaiian culture. If the windmills are permitted to take the lives of hundreds of flying animals, they are directly threatening the ecological sanctity of the islands.”

He went on to say that this is considered backward thinking if the windmill backers believe that these windmills will pave the way for a cleaner future even though they will slaughter a vast amount of birds and bats.

Although the protest has been mostly peaceful, there have been nearly 200 arrests made since Nov. 20, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Courtesy of Kawena Phillips
The people of Kahuku unite to protest against Na Pua Makani wind farm project.

Cleek was arrested on Oct. 17 and was initially charged with disobeying a police officer but took a plea deal and reduced the charge to something along the lines of traffic violation. However, his experience while being arrested was much more peaceful than what some people may think.

There have been some accusations regarding the arrests being made were aggressive and unnecessary during the protest. One accusation is about a teen who was allegedly punched and tased before his arrest, according to Hawaii News Now.

Cleek expressed that his arrest was respectful and wasn’t treated in a way that is wasn’t along the line of the accusations.

“An an arrestee, I was treated well enough,” Cleek said. “I was not harmed, and they showed me respect.”

Cleek agrees that this recent surge of protests happening on the islands is due to the situation currently happening in Mauna Kea.

Cleek was inspired to protest by his uncle Gene “Kini” Burke. His uncle was a part of the resistance on the mountain and was arrested at Mauna Kea Access Road this past summer. After seeing his uncle getting arrested, Cleek was inspired to take action on the matter.

“If my kupuna is willing to put himself in harms way to stop further desecration of out lands, then I must also,” he said. “It is imperative that we end the corruption of our ‘aina, lest we destroy the very thing that gives us life.”

Cleek hopes that a peaceful resolution can be reached, but the cost of it would be great.

“I hope that there need be no violence in the coming years, but it is up to the government to decide,” he said.

It seems that the people who are a part of Na Pua Makani are listening to all the feedback and comments.

Verla Moore is the community liaison for the wind farm project and the said that they are committed to working with the community in a written statement on Nov. 15.

“We take our commitments seriously to answer their questions, address their concerns and find the most meaningful way to give back to the community,” she said. “We continue to have many conversations with community members from Kahuku and the surrounding North Short neighborhoods in one-on-one and small group settings.”