The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist
A woman in Hawaii with a 35-letter surname has persuaded the island’s authorities to change their ID card and driving licence formats because her long name will not fit.
Janice “Lokelani” Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele said she would never consider using a shortened version, and so used the media to urge officials to take action.
For years she has carried two forms of ID: her driving licence, which has room for 34 characters, and her official Hawaii state ID card, which in the past had room for all 35 letters.
But the problem arose after her state ID was renewed in May – and came back the same as her driver’s licence, with the last letter “e” missing, and with no first name.
She said she felt compelled to raise the issue with officials after a policeman questioned her about her licence when he pulled her over.
“I said wait a minute, this is not my fault. This is the county’s fault that I don’t have an ID that has my name correctly,” she told Honolulu television station KHON.
The police officer suggested she could use her maiden name.
“I said, how disrespectful to the Hawaiian people, because there’s a lot of meaning behind this name.
“I’ve had this name for over 20 years. I had to grow into this name. It’s very deep spiritual path.”
She said her last name means “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”.
The 54-year-old Big Island resident took her case to KHON, which publicised the problem, putting pressure on the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
Within days, authorities, who had previously told her it would take two years to change and the surname character limit would remain at 35, had decided they could act more quickly.
Caroline Sluyter, from the Hawaiian Department of Transportation, said the state was working to increase the number of characters on driver’s licences and ID cards.
By the end of the year, the cards will allow 40 letters for first and last names and 35 characters for middle names, she said.
Ms Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele started using the name when she married her Hawaiian husband in 1992.
He used only the one name, but had similar problems before he died in 2008.