Hollywood celebrity the Rock - Dwayne Johnson has joined the native Hawaiians protesting against the $1.4 billion Mauna Kea telescope project. The protesters have blocked a road to stop the construction of the giant Thirty Meters Telescope (TMT) at the top of the Mauna Kea volcano, which is Hawaii’s tallest mountain.

After exchanging nose-to-nose (honi) greetings with the protesters, Johnson told reporters that the issue is bigger than the telescope. “It's humanity. It's the culture. It's our people, Polynesian people, who are willing to die here to protect this land,” he said. The Fast & Furious star explained that the natives consider the land as “very sacred” and believe in it powerfully. The Hawaiian natives regard Mauna Kea as one of the sacred sites in Hawaiian cosmology and it is an integral part of the native belief system.

Dwayne The Rock Johnson Dwayne Johnson attends the "Skyscraper" premiere at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on July 10, 2018 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Over the past couple of weeks, the protest has gathered strength with close to 2,000 protesters blocking access roads to the observatories, forcing the closure of 13 telescopes on Mauna kea. According to Peoples Dispatch Org, 33 native chiefs and several native activists have been arrested by the police for blocking the road.

Reports say the giant telescope was proposed to be built on the site over a decade ago, with the permit for construction granted in 2011 by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources. Interestingly, the site already houses 13 large astronomical telescopes. Mauna Kea is regarded as ideal for space telescopes because of its exceptionally stable climate and a summit that is above the inversion layer, which keeps it above the clouds and light pollution beneath.

The construction of the telescope has also fueled debate on scientific advancement at the cost of the environment and culture of the natives.