State begins training Hawaiian language interpreters for courtrooms

State begins training Hawaiian language interpreters for courtrooms
(Image: Wendy Osher/
(Image: Wendy Osher/

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A telescope protester who asserted his right to speak Hawaiian in court earlier this year has been granted an interpreter in Wailuku District Court.

Over the weekend, the state became one step closer to ensuring Hawaiian language interpreters are available for all courtrooms.

At the Supreme Court Building, the state held the first language interpreter workshop that included training for Hawaiian speakers.

The workshop familiarized the translators with integrating the language into the judicial system.

"It's not like we have to coin the words or anything. It's reassembling that historical knowledge and integrating into the system in place today," said Puakea Nogelmeier, who attended the workshop.

In August, Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo was among six protesters arrested during a confrontation with a convoy carrying equipment for the Telescope at the Haleakala summit.

A  bench warrant had initially been issued to Kaeo after a judge asked him several times to give his name in English during a court hearing in January.

A day later, the warrant was recalled.

The state judiciary has since changed its policy to allow an interpreter for those who speak Hawaiian.

Nogelmeier said the need and responsibility for interpreters in court is great.

"The only challenge is familiarity, because it was done like that for over a hundred years," he said.

Nogelmeier feels confident about integrating the Hawaiian language into the system.

As for Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo's court proceedings, according to The Maui News, his trial date is set for May.

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