East Hawaii News

Hanohano Issues Public Apology for Racial Slurs

February 28, 2013, 6:00 PM HST
* Updated March 1, 10:01 AM
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State Rep. Faye Hanohano has issued a public apology for racial and ethnic slurs she made in her state Capitol office on Monday.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser today reported that Hanohano’s comments were directed at workers installing art in her office as part of the state’s “Art in Public Places” program.

Hanohano, a Democrat serving her fourth term representing Puna, told exhibit workers that the paintings being installed in her office were “ugly” and that she would prefer art created by native Hawaiian artists, the newspaper said.

According to an email forwarded to the Star-Advertiser by an exhibit specialist, Hanohano told those installing the art that “any work done by Haoles, Japs, Paranges, Pakes, you can take them away right now.”

Hanohano, who is native Hawaiian, issued a statement this afternoon apologizing for her actions.

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“Clearly comments that were intended to be an impassioned plea for increasing the visibility and support for native Hawaiian artists were expressed in a manner that did not accurately reflect their intent, sentiment or the integrity of this office,” the statement said. “I accept full responsibility for this unfortunate incident and, again, I apologize.”

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She went on to say that her office has contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “to assist us in obtaining additional training for all of our staff.  We are committed to taking immediate steps to ensure that an incident like this never happens again.”

She said she also hoped to “rebuild and improve” her relationship with the State Foundation for Culture and the Arts, which is in charge of the “Art in Public Places” program.

House Speaker Joe Souki issued a statement saying that he had spoken with Hanohano to inform her that the comments were not in keeping with “the spirit of the House of Representatives.”

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“I absolutely do not condone this type of offensive language and behavior by anyone,” he said.

Hanohano, a former Kulani Correctional Facility administrator, is a member of the faction that elected Souki speaker and is chairwoman of the Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs.

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