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Demonstration: Hawaiian Man Who Refused to Speak English in Maui Court

January 26, 2018, 11:16 AM HST · Updated February 2, 10:13 AM
Wendy Osher · 6 Comments
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Demonstration: Hawaiian Man Who Refused to Speak English in Maui Court
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The group Kākoʻo Haleakalā that was involved in the initial telescope protests organized a gathering on Friday afternoon in front of the Old Wailuku Courthouse in support of a Native Hawaiian educator who refused to speak English in a Maui courtroom.

Click here to view our our LIVE Facebook coverage of the ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Nō Ka Lāhui demonstration.

A bench warrant that was issued and then recalled for Samuel Kaleikoa Kaʻeo when he chose to speak only in Hawaiian for a trial involving his arrest at last year’s demonstration against the construction of the Daniel K Inouye solar telescope atop Haleakalā.   We spoke with Kaʻeo on the grounds of the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Campus to get his thoughts.

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Being proficient in both Hawaiian and English, critics asked why Kaʻeo chose to speak in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi during Wednesday’s court proceedings. Given the recent 125th anniversary events of the overthrow and the recent remembrance of the 100th anniversary of Queen Liliʻuokalani’s death, we asked Kaʻeo if he feels progress has been made towards the betterment of the Hawaiian nation. His response to those questions is included in the video above.

The case has been rescheduled for “status, trial setting and further hearing on the issue of an interpreter,” for Feb. 21st.

Rally organizers put a call out to ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi supporters and advocates to join in the rally saying, “It is disappointing that the state government continues to place barriers on ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, 40 years after Hawaiʻi’s constitution was amended to recognize the Hawaiian language as an official language of the state. We demand that the State Judiciary find an immediate solution to this issue,” organizers said in a social media post.

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The Hawaiʻi Judiciary on Friday also announced the following policy regarding Hawaiian language interpreters during courtroom proceedings:

The Judiciary will provide or permit qualified Hawaiian language interpreters to the extent reasonably possible when parties in courtroom proceedings choose to express themselves through the Hawaiian language.

The Judiciary will develop implementation procedures for this policy, and welcomes input from the community. Comments may be sent to pao@courts.hawaii.gov.  Individuals who are interested in serving as a court interpreter should contact the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts at (808) 539-4860 for further information. Basic orientation workshops for court interpreters of all languages are scheduled across the State on the following dates and locations:

Oahu: Feb. 24-25 or March 24-25 at the Supreme Court Building in downtown Honolulu
Kauai: Feb. 13-14 at the Kauaʻi Courthouse in Lihue
Maui: Feb. 28-March 1 at the Maui Driver Education Office in the Main Street Promenade Building
Hawaii Island (Kona):  March 6-7 at the Kona Driver Education Office in the Kealakekua Business Plaza
Hawaii Island (Hilo):  March 15-16 at the Hilo Courthouse

The deadline to register is January 31, 2018.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 15 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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