“The MKMB also discussed the installation of a photovoltaic system at the Hale Pohaku Mid-Level Astronomy Facilities, its volunteer efforts, and the decision to change the spelling of Mauna Kea to one word instead of two.”I find that a surprising topic of discussion for two reasons. Linguistically, “Maunakea” isn't really more or less valid than “Mauna Kea.” In Hawaiian “mauna” means “mountain” and “kea” means “white,” and “mauna kea” translates really well into English as “white mountain.” Of course, by this point it's become a proper name, and just as “Whitemountain” would be a perfectly valid (if a little odd) name in English, “Maunakea” would be a valid name in Hawaiian (and there are a lot of precedents for names in Hawaiian made up of multiple words being written as one, which is where the occasional name longer than twenty letters comes from). This form of name is actually somewhat common in European languages: the name “Montenegro” (the country in south-east Europe) means simply “Black Mountain.” The early Baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi's last name I believe means “green mountain.” And there are cities in both France and Spain with the name Montblanc, which I think would translate to “white mountain.” I suspect such things probably also appear in other languages that I don't know around the world.
So this isn't quite as frivolous at it might as first appear, but it's at best neutral. Those other names have been long standardized in the form they appear, but just so “Mauna Kea” has been standard for quite a while. Which brings me to my second point: practically, Mauna Kea has been spelled that way for a long time now. Even if you could make a compelling case, linguistically, for spelling it as one word (which I don't think you can, although I do admit I'm not an expert in Hawaiian), the fact of the matter is that there's a lot of printed material out there calling it Mauna Kea. This should give serious pause to any consideration of name-changing, no matter what. It's just strange to me that the subject was even brought up for discussion.
To be fair, there isn't any indication in the article about what was actually decided in the matter or even how much time they spent discussing it. I haven't heard anything official since, but if I do I'll be sure to report on it. Until next time, a hui hou!