BBC News

Long-named US woman celebrates government climb-down

media captionMs Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele's maiden name was Worth

A US woman has won a battle to have her full name put on her driving licence.

Janice "Lokelani" Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele's name is so long - containing 36 letters and 19 syllables - that it would not fit on the documentation.

But she says her grievance has now been redressed.

Hawaii government computer systems are to be upgraded by the end of the year, allowing her to have her full name on her driving licence and ID card.

media caption"No-one ever gets away with chopping my name without hearing about it"

At present her documentation only has a truncated version of her name, because the computer system in Hawaii cannot handle more than 35 characters.

Ms Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele - whose maiden name was the more compact Worth - said that she began the campaign to get her full name on government documentation because she was shocked at the way police treated her after stopping her car.

"The policeman looked at my licence and saw I had no first name. I told him it is not my fault that my licence and state ID are not correct and I am trying to get it corrected," she said.

"He then told me 'Well, you can always change your name back to your maiden name.' This hurt my heart."

"Over the last 22 years I have seen... the culture of Hawaii being trampled upon and this policeman treated my name as if it was mumbo-jumbo."

Ms Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele said that the officer's attitude upset her because he was being "disrespectful of the Hawaiian people".

After she brought her concerns to the governor's department, they announced that a license and an ID card which allows her full name on it will be produced by the end of 2013.

A spokeswoman for Hawaii's transport department, Caroline Sluyter, said computer systems across the state were being upgraded to accommodate longer names.

"We have been made aware of that issue, and I know right now they are working to extend that limit to - I believe - 40 characters so that issue can be resolved," she said.

Ms Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele - who got her name after marrying in 1992 - said that her name had many layers of meanings including "one who would stand up and get people to focus in one direction when there was chaos and confusion, and help them emerge from disorder".

Your comments

My maiden name is double-barrelled - Gonsalves-Barriero - from my father's Portuguese heritage. During my school years, on the first day of a new class, I would know when the teacher reached my name on the roll call, because there would always be a long pause and a wide-eyed look before they proceeded to stumble through my name. I've always loved my name and been proud of it because of my heritage and great-grandfather's story of migration from Portugal to the Caribbean. When I got married I refused to change to my husband's surname; at most I decided to ADD it. When I renewed my driver's license in my native Antigua, the system did not allow for all three of my surnames: Gonsalves-Barriero Nikolic. Donna-Lee Gonsalves-Barriero Nikolic, Bitola, Macedonia

I was "Neate" before I married my Malagasy (Madagascan) husband. Although having a long surname does have some drawbacks, there are also some advantages. Firstly, it is memorable. Secondly, cold callers often hang up when they get to my name - "Good afternoon Mrs ..........." they seem afraid to attempt it! Mrs Penny Randriamahavorisoa, Leicestershire, UK

I routinely have my name anglicised and shortened. Many computer systems can only get as far as Mac Giolla Bhri. Others hyphenate the surname as Mac-Giolla-Bhrighde and then it can't be retrieved. At one stage I had five separate national insurance numbers. The biggest problem however is with post. I routinely get letters and packages addressed to other Irish speakers. Even when they live miles away, the address is correct and the name doesn't even look similar. Lughaidh Mac Giolla Bhrighde, Maghera, Ireland

I have a similar problem. In India (Tamil culture), the first name is your father's name, the second name is your name and the last name is the surname or family name. In India I used to write my name as V Balaji, but after moving to Canada I shortened my father's name to Ven. On my driving license my name is written as Venkateshwar, the 'a' is missing because the computer system only takes 12 characters. It is some times very frustrating. Venkateshwara Balaji Venkatachalam, Calgary, Canada

My full name is a bit long too. I have faced many problems. Sometimes people ask me my name several times just to hear me say it. Sometimes they show unusual surprise and react negatively and ask me to shorten my name. And it is hard to complete forms, as different official forms do not have enough room for my full name. Abu Sayed Malik Md. Monsur-ul-Hakim, Dhaka, Bangladesh

I have a name which is very long because my mother is Portuguese. I have seven surnames in total and it always causes havoc when it comes to filling in forms, people never quite believe it is my name. My passport is British and because there isn't enough space to have my full surname on the document, me, my brother and my sister were forced to sign a sheet of paper that says we are happy for our names to be abbreviated on the passport. So my surname according to my passport is Pontes D C G J Y S, which is really disappointing because now when I travel I have to take my birth certificate with me. If I marry - under the Portuguese law - I have to keep my maiden surname and add my husband's on to it, and my children will have to take both their mother's and father's names. Melissa Zoe Pontes Da Costa Granja James Y Savill, Loughton, Essex, UK