Actor Jason Momoa and pop star Bruno Mars are returning to their island roots by showing their support for Native Hawaiian activists protesting a massive telescope project planned for the Mauna Kea mountain on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Draped in traditional garb and lei, or a wreath made of ti leaves, Momoa and his 10-year-old son joined activists on the mountain on Wednesday to make an offering to Mauna Kea and encourage protesters.
The “Aquaman” star, who celebrated his 40th birthday on Thursday, has been a prominent voice in the protests since he made an appearance at demonstrations on the mountain in 2015. Over the last few weeks, Momoa has been educating his fans on what the protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope are all about.
For a group of Native Hawaiians, known as protectors, the protest is about defending Mauna Kea as a sacred space in Hawaiian tradition and preventing a massive construction project in an ecologically fragile site.
“I love my heritage both sides, Hawaiian and Iowan,” Momoa said in an Instagram post last week. “With all due respect to the pursuit of scientific knowledge, we must always protect what is sacred to our people.”
Mars’ show of solidarity with protesters was much more simple.
He posted to Instagram a photo of elderly Hawaiian protesters standing in a line across a road, preventing construction crews from accessing the site of the proposed telescope.
“I love you Hawaii, and I’m with you,” he wrote, adding the hashtag, #protectmaunakea.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, another celebrity with ties to the Hawaiian islands, also showed up to the mountain during the 10th day of protests in July.
The “Hobbs and Shaw” actor called on Hawaii’s state leaders to work with protesters and find a culturally-respectful resolution.
“A greater leadership has to step in. There needs to be leadership with empathy,” Johnson said at the time. “The whole idea about this [protest] is not about stopping progress. It’s not about stopping science. It’s about respecting a culture and respecting people and doing things the right way.”