East Hawaii News

Three Arrested for Blocking TMT to Testify in Hawaiian

November 11, 2015, 4:36 PM HST
* Updated November 11, 4:40 PM
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Hawaiian language interpreters will be brought in for upcoming trials of three individuals arrested on Mauna Kea for blocking Thirty Meter Telescope crews from ascending the mountain earlier this year.

Among the three is one of the “Mauna Kea Protector” movement leaders, Kaho’okahi Kanuha, who says the decision in his case came last week after Judge Barbara Takase would not accept communication from him in Hawaiian.

“I appeared in court for my arraignment, pretrial, and trial and all those times I’ve been in court, I have only spoken Hawaiian. I have been consistent with that from the very beginning,” Kanuha said.

At last week’s hearing, Kanuha said he answered Judge Takase in only Hawaiian. Each time he presented an answer in Hawaiian, the judge reportedly told him he would need to request an interpreter should he wish to speak anything other than English. Kanuha refused.

“I have refused to get an interpreter. I have stood from the thought that I don’t need an interpreter. I can communicate in English and Hawaiian and it is the court that is having the issue with communication,” Kanuha told Big Island Now Wednesday. “I will not give up my right to speak Hawaiian because they cannot. I will not allow for the courts to limit my right based on their capabilities or lack thereof.”

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Kanuha said the judge eventually decided to postpone the case until Jan. 7 as the court arranged Hawaiian interpreters.

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“I shouldn’t have to ask permission to speak my language, regardless of where I am, especially when it’s protected under the state constitution.”

Hawaiian is listed as the official language of the State of Hawai’i, held equally with English, although courts generally conduct business in English with language interpreters for those who cannot communicate in English.

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