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Hawaiian Woman Gets IDs That Fit Her 36-Character Last Name

Janice Keihanaikukauakahihulihe'ekahaunaele holds her old Hawaii drivers license that lacked the space for her full name.
Chris Stewart
Janice Keihanaikukauakahihulihe'ekahaunaele holds her old Hawaii drivers license that lacked the space for her full name.

As promised back in the fall, the state of Hawaii has come up with new driver's license and state identification cards for Janice "Lokelani" Keihanaikukauakahihulihe'ekahaunaele — the "long-named" woman whose complaint about having her name shortened on official IDs led to a policy change.

According to The Associated Press:

"Keihanaikukauakahihulihe'ekahaunaele, 54, said Monday that she's happy she was able to help fix the problem of identification cards lacking sufficient space for long names.

" 'Now, in the state of Hawaii, we are no longer second class citizens because of the length of our name,' she said."

She has had problems when traveling and says that earlier this year a police officer gave her a hard time about the name during a traffic stop.

As for the name itself, the wire service says that:

"Keihanaikukauakahihulihe'ekahaunaele got the name when she married her Hawaiian husband in 1992. He used only the one name, which his grandfather gave him after it came to him in a dream. [Her husband died in 2008.]

"Under the old policy, Hawaii County issued Keihanaikukauakahihulihe'ekahaunaele her driver's license and state ID with the last letter of her name chopped off. And it omitted her first name."

The old license was also missing an okina, which as the University of Hawaii says is a way to show "a glottal stop, similar to the sound between the syllables of 'oh-oh.' " (We should note that an okina is often used the state's name — as in, Hawai'i.)

Under the new policy, the state's cards will have room for 40 characters in "first and last names and 35 characters for middle names," the AP reports.

For those who wonder, by the way, the wire service adds this pronunciation guide for Keihanaikukauakahihulihe'ekahaunaele's name:


You can also hear how the name is said in this video from Hawaii's KHON2-TV.

In an earlier report, the AP wrote of the name that it "has layers of meanings. One, [Keihanaikukauakahihulihe'ekahaunaele] said, is 'When there is chaos and confusion, you are one that will stand up and get people to focus in one direction and come out of the chaos.' It also references the origins of her and her husband's family."

Keihanaikukauakahihulihe'ekahaunaele may have the longest name we've written about, but it's arguably not the most unusual:

-- Nebraska Man Changes His Name To 'Tyrannosaurus Rex'

-- Wisconsin Police Arrest Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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