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Photo: Devin Kamealoha Forrest

By Devin Kamealoha Forrest

In the June 2019 issue of Ka Wai Ola, the Office of Equality and Access to the Courts (“OEAC”) for the Judiciary of Hawaiʻi reported on how few certified Hawaiian language interpreters there are in all judicial circuits throughout the state. It was stated, at the time, that there were only six certified Hawaiian language court interpreters in the courts; three on Hawaiʻi island, two on Kauaʻi, one on Maui, and none on Oʻahu.

This year, the first experimental class for Hawaiian language court interpreters was launched by OEAC and Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, to train more Hawaiian language interpreters who could assist in the court system. The class started on Sept. 6, 2023, and was taught by Kaliko Beamer Trapp. The course not only taught the language and terms used in the courts, but also educated the interpreter candidates on the rules of court, proper court protocols and ethical matters when providing interpretation in court.

There are many rules and responsibilities for the interpreter to learn, and many tests to demonstrate that the interpreter candidate possesses the requisite knowledge. Therefore, a focus on these various topics in the class was necessary so that the interpreter candidates would appreciate the significance of this work and the necessity of interpreters to the Hawaiian language speaking community.

Devin Kamealoha Forrest is a staff attorney and Title & Research specialist at the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.