The Hawaii Department of Transportation is changing a policy after Janice “Lokelani” Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele’s name was too long to fit on her state identification card and driver’s license. Presently, there’s a 35 character limit on state-issued identification cards, and the 36th letter of Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele’s name is cut off, along with her first and middle names. By the end of the year, Hawaii plans to increase the number of characters allowed on ID’s.
Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele said, “I have had phone calls all day today from all over the world calling me about this story. People are telling me about other people who have just learned about the story and seeing how long my name is. I’m not the only one. I hope that solves problems for other folks in the future.”
Traditionally, surnames didn’t exist in old Hawaii. Genuine Hawaiian names are unisex, and typically have a clear, literal meaning. For example, “Keanu” means cool mountain breeze. Though, in 1860 King Kamehameha IV signed the Act to Regulate Names. Henceforth, Hawaiians user their father’s first name as their surname, and all babies born had to be given Christian (English) first names. Their given Hawaiian names served as their middle names. This law was repealed in 1967.
In an email, Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele wrote, “You see, to some people in the world, your name is everything. If I say my name to an elder Hawaiian, they know everything about my husband’s family going back many generations … just from the name.”
The Hawaii DOT will soon allow 40 characters for the first name, 40 characters for the last name, 35 characters for the middle name, and 5 characters for any suffix.