Tearful testimony at the Capitol over Hawaiian language translation bill

Updated: Jan. 30, 2018 at 9:56 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A push to provide a Hawaiian language interpreter at court proceedings is gaining momentum at the State Capitol.

Dozens of supporters packed a hearing at the State Capitol Tuesday to testify in favor of Senate Bill 2687. At times, testimony was emotional and teary as many expressed the importance and value of the language.

Anela Fernandez's children are native speakers of Hawaiian. In light of last week's language battle in a Maui courtroom, she shared the impact it had on her children.

"When we were at home and we saw the news come up last week, my children even cried over how sad of a situation it was," Fernandez said through a translator.

"My 4-year-old (daughter) turned to me and she said, 'Mommy why is this not allowed, that he cannot speak Hawaiian? This is making me so sad,'" she added.

SB 2687 would appropriate funds for UH Hilo to translate the Hawaii State Constitution into Olelo Hawaii. But a new amendment adds wording requiring courtroom interpreters if requested -- a policy the State Judiciary plans to now follow.

"In order to ensure that what happened to Professor Kaeo will not happen again, we need your help to raise the status of the native language of the Hawaiian archipaelago systematically in the state of Hawaii," Healani Sonoda-Pale said.

The bill now moves to the Ways and Means Committee before heading to the full senate.

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