Seiuli the Rock shows support to Hawaii protesters
Samoan Hollywood star, Seiuli Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, paid a surprise visit to a camp of protesters in Hawaii seeking to block the construction of a massive telescope on what they say is sacred land.
Seiuli lent his support to protesters whose efforts to block construction of the 'Thirty Metre' telescope at the summit of the dormant volcano, Mauna Kea, have now drawn into a tenth day, according to reports.
"It’s bigger than the telescope,” Seiuli told reporters, according to comments carried by local television station Hawaii News Now.
“It’s our people, Polynesian people, who are willing to die here to protect this land ... this very sacred land that they believe in so powerfully.”
Seiuli's mother is Samoan and he spent part of his youth in Hawaii before he became one of Hollywood's most successful actors.
The $US1.4-billion telescope is planned for the summit of Mauna Kea, the state's highest mountain, a site considered sacred by many native Hawaiians.
About 1000 native Hawaiian activists have gathered on an access road blocking the path of construction equipment that were to be taken to the peak of of Mauna Kea, according to reports from the Associated Press (A.P.).
Thirty-eight protesters are reported to have been arrested since protests began on July 15.
More than a dozen other smaller telescopes on the mountain have ceased operation for the duration of the protests, which are blocking an access road, the AP reported.
The telescope's backers, including the University of California and prominent philanthropists favour the telescope's construction due to its uniquely high vantage point, providing the best view of the night sky.
Seiuli said he was hopeful of a resolution to the impasse.
“This is a very steadfast culture,” he said.
"No one is going anywhere.
"I’m optimistic that something positive is going to come out of this.”
AP reports that Seiuli's visit followed another by Hawaii's Governor, David Ige, the day before.
Governor Ige said he and Hawaii County Mayor, Harry Kim, would seek to find common ground with the protestors and that he understood the issues involved went beyond the telescope and toward "righting the wrongs done to the Hawaiian people."
Mr. Johnson is set to portray King Kamehameha the Great, the leader who unified Hawaii's islands in 1810, in a forthcoming movie to be produced by his own company.
The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown by the U.S. government in 1893.