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The Hawai'i State Flag

Hawaii state flag

Before 1810 each of the populated Hawaiian Islands was ruled by its own King and the political and religious systems administerd by ali'i and kahuna (chiefs and priests). Though there were conflicts between the various ali'i and kings from time to time, the people of the islands, for the most part farmers and fishermen, were not inclined toward long term war and life among the islands was relatively peaceful and practical.

That was before 1810 and before a young, ambitious ali'i, Kamehameha, managed to aquire a small schooner with a cannon. With the help of his cannon and various small arms brought to the islands by European travelers, he was able to take control of the island chain from Hawaii to Kauai. He instituted systems of governance, commerce, and taxation, establishing his court on the island of Hawaii and appointing governors to control all of the other islands. Kamehameha created a single sovereign nation that gained recognition as such by the major powers of the world.

In 1816, Kamehameha the Great commissioned the Hawaiian Flag, the flag that has represented Hawaii the nation, Hawaii the people and Hawaii the state for over 180 years. Though Hawaii's independence was briefly challenged in 1843 by Lord Paulette, Great Britain sent Admiral Thomas to officially restore and recognize Hawaii's sovereignty and flag on July 31, 1843.

On that same day, Kamehameha III proclaimed "Ua mau ke ea o ka `aina i ka pono." (The life [independence] of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.) And, two years later on May 20, 1845, Kamehameha III officially re-commissioned and dedicated the Hawaiian Flag at the opening of the Kingdom's Legislature.

The eight alternating white, red and blue stripes represent the eight islands of Hawaii. The British Union Jack represents Hawaii's historical relationship with Great Britian as its protectorate. It also represents a stylized puela (a triangular standard laying across two crossed spears called an alia) which is the symbol of the Hawaiian ali'i.

Hawaii Flag Law

The following information was excerpted from The Hawaii Revised Statutes, Volume 1, Chapter 5.

(A) The fly (length) is twice the hoist (width);

(B) The jack is half the hoist (width) in breadth and 7-16 the fly in length;

(C) The arms of the red cross with border shall be equal in width to one of the horizontal stripes; the white border shall be one-third the width of the red cross;

(D) The arms of the compound saltire (crossing) are equal in width to the red cross, the tinctures white, red, and the border being in the proportion of 3, 2, 1, respectively.

The following information was extracted from The Constitution of the State of Hawaii, Article 15, Section 3.

Source: Hawaii State Legislature, Hawaii Revised Statutes, , July 7, 2007.
Source: Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau, The Constitution of the State of Hawai'i, , July 7, 2007.
Source: Hawaii State Government, The State Flag, , July 7, 2007.
Source: Ka Hae Hawai'i, The Story of the Hawaiin Flag, , July 7, 2007.
Source: Flags of the Fifty States and Their Incredible Histories: The Complete Guide to America's Most Powerful Symbols by Randy Howe. The Lyons Press; First edition edition (November 1, 2002).
Source: State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded by Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer. Greenwood Press; 3 Sub edition (October 30, 2001).
Source: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols by George Earlie Shankle. Reprint Services Corp; Revised edition (June 1971).

Additional Information

Hawaii (U.S.): FOTW "Flags of the World" Web Site.

State Flags: Complete list of state flags with links to large pictures and images suitable for coloring.

Flag Terminology: The parts of a flag and terms associated with its design.

Visit Our Flag Shop: Purchase all kinds of flags and banners, lapel pins, 50 state flag sets, decals, patches, college banners at the Flag Shop.

Flags of the Fifty States and their Incredible Histories: A complete guide to America's most powerful symbols by Randy Howe.

How Proudly They Wave: Flags of the Fifty States: This book, by Rita D. Haban, is geared toward younger readers.



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