Flag of Hawaii

The current official flag of Hawaii (Hawaiian: Ka Hae Hawaiʻi) had also previously been used by the kingdom, protectorate, republic, and territory of Hawaii. The inclusion of an emblem of a foreign country, the Union Flag of the United Kingdom, is a remnant of the British Empire's influence on Hawaiian history. It is the only US state flag to include a foreign country's national flag.[1][2]

Flag of Hawaii
NameKa Hae Hawaiʻi
UseCivil and state flag
AdoptedDecember 29, 1845
DesignEight alternating horizontal stripes of white, red, and blue, with the United Kingdom's Union Flag in the canton


While many older Native Hawaiians, prior to 1921, had erroneously believed the current flag of Hawaii was created by Captain Alexander Adams during his trip to China in 1817 aboard the "Kaahumanu", there is no indication that the flag was either made or flown during that period. Adams noted that in 1817 on his way to China he raised his own Ensign on Kauai in lieu of a Russian flag as the king had no other. Adams's journals also mention the British East India Company flag. Kamehameha had wanted to purchase a brig named the Forester out of London. As part of transfer, the flag, which consisted of the Union Jack on a field of red and white stripes, was taken by Adams during a ceremony with an 11-gun salute.[3]

In 1793, Captain George Vancouver, having previously visited the islands with Captain James Cook, returned in command of HMS Discovery.[4] During the visit, Vancouver met with Kamehameha I and presented him with a Red Ensign.[5] At this time, Ireland was not a formal part of the United Kingdom, which meant that the British flag did not contain Saint Patrick's Cross. This version of the Red Ensign, as well as the current version which added the cross in 1801, was the unofficial flag of the Kingdom of Hawaii until 1816.[6]

Flag of Hawaii (1816)
Flag of Hawaii, 1816–1845
Flag of Hawaii (1896)
Flag of Hawaii in 1896

An adviser to Kamehameha noted that the Union Flag could draw Hawaii into international conflict, as his kingdom could be seen as an ally of the United Kingdom, and he subsequently lowered the Union Flag over his home at Kamakahonu. While disputed as to its historical accuracy, one account stated that in order to placate US interests during the War of 1812, a US flag was raised over Kamehameha's home, only to be removed when UK officers in the court of Kamehameha vehemently objected to it. This would explain why the resulting flag of Hawaii was a deliberate hybrid of the two nations' flags.[7]

In 1816, Kamehameha commissioned his own flag to avoid this conflict, which has evolved into the current flag. It was probably designed by one of the commanders of the Royal Hawaiian Navy, former officers of the British Royal Navy, who advised Kamehameha, based on a form of the British naval flag. There is debate as to the actual designer: some credit Alexander Adams, others George Charles Beckley. It was very similar to the flag of the British East India Company in use at about this time, which had only red and white stripes. Captain Adams used this flag for the first time on a Hawaiian trade mission to China in 1817.[8]

The original flag was designed to feature stripes alternating in the order red-white-blue, also attributed to various historical flags of the United Kingdom. The flag used at the first official flying of the flag of Hawaii mistakenly placed the stripes in the order white-red-blue,[9] although it seems that explorers to the island disagree about the exact order of colors and the number of stripes up to the late 1840s. There may have been different versions of the flag with different numbers of stripes and colors.[10] The number of stripes also changed: originally, the flag was designed with either seven or nine horizontal stripes, and in 1845 it was officially changed to eight stripes. The latter arrangement is used today.[7]


The flag of Hawaii flying in Haleakalā National Park

The canton of the flag of Hawaii contains the Union Flag of the United Kingdom, prominent over the top quarter closest to the flag mast. The field of the flag is composed of eight horizontal stripes, symbolizing the eight major islands (Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, and Niʻihau). Other versions of the flag have only seven stripes, probably representing the islands with the exception of Kahoʻolawe or Niʻihau. The color of the stripes, from the top down, follows the sequence: white, red, blue, white, red, blue, white, red. The colors were standardized in 1843, although other combinations have been seen and are occasionally still used.[11][12]

In 2001, a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) placed Hawaii's flag 11th in design quality out of the 72 Canadian provincial, US state and US territorial flags ranked.[13]

Ka Hae Hawaii Day

In 1990, Governor of Hawaii John Waihee proclaimed July 31 to be Ka Hae Hawaii Day, the Hawaiian Flag Day. It has been celebrated each year since then.[14] It is the same date as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day, a holiday of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi that is celebrated by proponents of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.[15]

Flag of the Governor

The flag used by the governor of Hawaii is a red and blue bi-color. In the middle of the eight white stars appears the name of the state in all capital letters. During the time Hawaii was a United States territory, the letters in the middle of the flag were "TH", which stood for "Territory of Hawaii".[16]

Flag of the Governor of Hawaii pre-1959

Standard of the governor before statehood in 1959

Flag of the Governor of Hawaii

Standard of the governor of Hawaiʻi


Date Flag Image
1793–1800 British Red Ensign[17] Red Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg
1801–1816 British Red Ensign following the Acts of Union with Ireland Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
1816–1843 Early version of the present flag Flag of Hawaii (1816).svg
February 1843 – July 1843 Union Flag (during the Paulet Affair) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
July 1843 – May 1845 Early version of the present flag Flag of Hawaii (1816).svg
December 1845 – February 1893 The current Hawaiian flag introduced in 1845 Flag of Hawaii (1896).svg
February 1893 – April 1893 US flag (after the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii) Flag of the United States (1891–1896).svg
1894–1898 Hawaiian flag re-adopted by the Republic of Hawaii Flag of Hawaii (1896).svg
1898–1959 Hawaiian flag used by the US territory of Hawaii Flag of Hawaii.svg
1959–present Hawaiian flag currently used by the State of Hawaii Flag of Hawaii.svg


Standard of the King Kalakaua

Personal Standard of the King Kalakaua

Flag of Princess Kaiulani (1875-1899)

Personal Standard of Princess Kaiulani

Hawaiian Islands. Johnson's new chart of national emblems, 1868

1868 flag chart

Ku'u Hae Aloha (My Beloved Flag), Hawaiian cotton quilt from Waimea, before 1918, Honolulu Academy of Arts

Hawaiian quilt from Waimea, before 1918

See also


  1. ^ Marshall, Tim (2017). A Flag Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of National Symbols. Simon and Schuster. pp. 52–53. ISBN 9781501168338.
  2. ^ Bloss, Janet Adele (1983). State Flags. Willowisp Press. p. 66. ISBN 9780874061833.
  3. ^ The Friend. 1921. p. 43.
  4. ^ MARK "KAILANA" NELSON (March 4, 2011). Learn to Play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. Mel Bay Publications. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-61065-596-5.
  5. ^ All about Hawaii: The Recognized Book of Authentic Information on Hawaii, Combined with Thrum's Hawaiian Annual and Standard Guide. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 1974.
  6. ^ Donald T. Healy; Peter J. Orenski (January 12, 2016). Native American Flags. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-8061-5575-3.
  7. ^ a b Quaife, Milo; M. J. Weig; R. E. Appleman (1961). The History of the United States Flag. New York: Harper. p. 154.
  8. ^ Henry Whalley Nicholson (1889). From sword to share: or a fortune in five years at Hawaii. W.H. Allen & Co. pp. 83–85.
  9. ^ "Hawaii: historical flags". Fotw.net. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  10. ^ Howard M. Ballou (1906). The Reversal of the Hawaiian Flag. pp. 5–11. ISBN 0-8028-5088-X.
  11. ^ "Name and Insignia of Hawaii – State Flag". Hawaii State Library. March 1, 2006. Archived from the original on May 11, 2007. Retrieved October 25, 2007.
  12. ^ BBC History, Jan 2008
  13. ^ "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey - NAVA.org" (PDF). nava.org.
  14. ^ "Hawaiian Flag Day Proclamation". Archived from the original on July 3, 2006. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
  15. ^ Hoʻokahua Staff (July 2014). "Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea: Hawaiʻi Commemorates Sovereignty Restoration Day". Kaleinamanu Hawaiian Cultural Center, Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  16. ^ "Name and Insignia of Hawaii – Governor's Flag". Hawaii State Library. March 1, 2006. Archived from the original on May 11, 2007. Retrieved October 25, 2007.
  17. ^ All about Hawaii: The Recognized Book of Authentic Information on Hawaii, Combined with Thrum's Hawaiian Annual and Standard Guide. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 1974.

External links

Alexander Adams (sailor)

Captain Alexander Adams (1780–1871) was a Scotsman who served in the British Royal Navy and then came to the Hawaiian islands and served in the navy of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Known to the Hawaiians as Alika Napunako Adams' Creator of the Hawaiian flag


Annexation (Latin ad, to, and nexus, joining) is the administrative action and concept in international law relating to the forcible acquisition of one state's territory by another state and is generally held to be an illegal act. It is distinct from conquest, which refers to the acquisition of control over a territory involving a change of sovereignty, and differs from cession, in which territory is given or sold through treaty, since annexation is a unilateral act where territory is seized and held by one state. It usually follows military occupation of a territory.Annexation can be legitimized via general recognition by international bodies (i.e. other countries and intergovernmental organisations).

Canton (flag)

A canton in a flag is a rectangular area, usually at the top hoist corner of a flag, occupying up to a quarter of the flag's area. The canton of a flag may be a flag in its own right. For instance, British ensigns have the Union Jack as their canton, as do their derivatives such as the national flags of Australia and New Zealand.

Following the practice of the UK's ensigns, a canton sometimes contains a symbol of national unity such as the blue field and white stars of the US flag. In these cases, the canton may be called simply the union.

The US flag's canton derives from the UK's use of the Union Jack in the canton of its possessions (including, historically, the early United States). Subsequently, many New World nations (and other later countries and regions, such as Liberia or Malaysia) that were inspired by the US incorporated elements likewise inspired by the US flag. As a result, many extant uses of a prominent canton derive either from UK territorial history, or US influence and inspiration.

Flag of Fiji

The national flag of Fiji was adopted on 10 October 1970. The state arms have been slightly modified but the flag has remained the same as during Fiji's colonial period. It is a defaced sky-blue "Blue Ensign" (the actual Blue Ensign version of the flag is the Government ensign). It has remained unchanged since Fiji was declared a republic in 1987, despite calls from some politicians for changes.

A plan to change the flag, announced by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in 2013, was abandoned in August 2016.

Flag of Texas

The flag of Texas is the official flag of the U.S. state of Texas. It is well known for its prominent single white star which gives the flag its commonly-used name: "Lone Star Flag." This lone star, in turn, gives rise to the state's nickname: "The Lone Star State." The flag, flown at homes and businesses statewide, is highly popular among Texans and is treated with a great degree of reverence and esteem within Texas. Along with the flag of Hawaii, it is one of two state flags to have previously served as a national flag.In 2001, the North American Vexillological Association surveyed its members on the designs of the 72 U.S. state, territorial, and Canadian provincial flags and ranked the Texas flag 2nd, behind New Mexico.

Flags of Oceania

This is a gallery of national flags of Oceania.

Flags of the U.S. states and territories

The flags of the U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia exhibit a variety of regional influences and local histories, as well as different styles and design principles. Nonetheless, the majority of the states' flags share the same design pattern consisting of the state seal superimposed on a monochrome background, commonly a shade of blue.

The most recently adopted state flag is the Flag of Utah, which was updated on February 16, 2011 to fix incorrectly located text. The most recently adopted territorial flag is that of the Northern Mariana Islands, and was adopted on July 1, 1985.

George Charles Beckley

George Charles Beckley (March 5, 1787 – April 16, 1826) was an English captain, trader, and military adviser. He was one of the earliest foreigners to have a major impact in the Kingdom of Hawaii, where he would eventually become a noble, and was one of the disputed creators of the Flag of Hawaii.

Grand Union Flag

The "Grand Union Flag" (also known as the "Continental Colors", the "Congress Flag", the

"Cambridge Flag", and the "First Navy Ensign") is considered to be the first national flag of the United States of America.This flag consisted of 13 alternating red and white stripes (like the current U.S. flag), but with the upper inner corner or canton resembling the British Union Flag of the time (prior to the inclusion of St. Patrick's Saltire after the 1801 union of Ireland and Great Britain).


Hawaii ( (listen) hə-WY-ee; Hawaiian: Hawaiʻi [həˈvɐjʔi]) is a state of the United States of America. It is the only state located in the Pacific Ocean and the only state composed entirely of islands.

The state encompasses nearly the entire Hawaiian archipelago, 137 islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). The volcanic archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania. At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight main islands are, in order from northwest to southeast: Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi. The last is the largest island in the group; it is often called the "Big Island" or "Hawaiʻi Island" to avoid confusion with the state or archipelago.

Hawaii is the 8th smallest geographically and the 11th least populous, but the 13th most densely populated of the 50 states. It is the only state with an Asian American plurality. Hawaii has over 1.4 million permanent residents, along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. The state capital and largest city is Honolulu on the island of Oʻahu. The state's ocean coastline is about 750 miles (1,210 km) long, the fourth longest in the U.S., after the coastlines of Alaska, Florida, and California. Hawaii is the most recent state to join the union, on August 21, 1959. It was an independent nation until 1898.

Hawaii's diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists. Because of its central location in the Pacific and 19th-century labor migration, Hawaii's culture is strongly influenced by North American and East Asian cultures, in addition to its indigenous Hawaiian culture.

List of flags by color

This is a list of flags by color. Each section below contains any flag that has any amount of the color listed for that section.

Mauna ʻAla

Mauna ʻAla (Fragrant Hills) in the Hawaiian language, is the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii (also called Royal Mausoleum State Monument) and the final resting place of Hawaii's two prominent royal families: the Kamehameha Dynasty and the Kalākaua Dynasty.

Newlands Resolution

The Newlands Resolution was a joint resolution passed on July 4, 1898 by the United States Congress to annex the independent Republic of Hawaii. In 1900, Congress created the Territory of Hawaii. It was drafted by Congressman Francis G. Newlands of Nevada, a Democrat. Annexation was a highly controversial political issue along with the similar issue of the acquisition of the Philippines in 1898.

Paulet affair (1843)

The Paulet affair was the five-month occupation of the Hawaiian Islands in 1843 by British naval officer Captain Lord George Paulet, of HMS Carysfort.

Red Ensign

The Red Ensign or "Red Duster" is the civil ensign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It is one of the British ensigns, and it is used either plain, or adorned/embellished with a badge or other emblem mostly in the right half.

It is the flag flown by British merchant or passenger ships since 1707. Prior to 1707, an English red ensign and a Scottish red ensign were flown by the English and Scottish Royal navies respectively. The precise date of the first appearance of these earlier red ensigns is not known, but surviving payment receipts indicate that the English navy was paying to have such flags sewn in the 1620s.

Seal of Hawaii

The Great Seal of the State of Hawaii was designated officially by Act 272 of the 1959 Territorial Legislature and is based on the territorial seal. Modifications to the territorial seal included the use of the words "State of Hawaii" at the top and "1959" within the circle. Provisions for a seal for the state of Hawaii were enacted by the Territorial Legislature and approved by Governor William F. Quinn on June 8, 1959. The passage of the Admission Act in 1959, admitted Hawaii as the 50th State of the United States of America on August 21, 1959.

The seal of the Territory of Hawaii was the same as the seal of the republic, except that it had "Territory of Hawaii" placed at the top and "1900" (signifying the year that the territorial government officially was organized) within the circle. The 1901 Territorial Legislature authorized the modified republic seal as the Seal of the Territory of Hawaii.The seal of the Republic of Hawaii had the words "Republic of Hawaii" at the top and "MDCCCXCIV" within the circle. The year 1894 signified the date that the republic was established. The republic seal was designed by Viggo Jacobsen, a Honolulu resident, and itself was derived from the Kingdom of Hawaii coat of arms used during the reign of King Kamehameha III, King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani, which had been designed by the College of Arms in London in 1842 and officially adopted in 1845.

Territory of Hawaii

The Territory of Hawaii or Hawaii Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from April 30, 1900 until August 21, 1959, when most of its territory, excluding Palmyra Island and the Stewart Islands, was admitted to the Union as the fiftieth U.S. state, the State of Hawaii. The Hawaii Admission Act specified that the State of Hawaii would not include the distant Palmyra Island, the Midway Islands, Kingman Reef, and Johnston Atoll, which includes Johnston (or Kalama) Island and Sand Island, and the Act was silent regarding the Stewart Islands.On July 4, 1898, the United States Congress passed the Newlands Resolution authorizing the U.S. annexation of the Republic of Hawaii, and five weeks later, on August 12, Hawaii became a U.S. territory. In April 1900 Congress approved the Hawaiian Organic Act which organized the territory. Hawaii's territorial history includes a period from 1941 to 1944, during World War II, when the islands were placed under martial law. Civilian government was dissolved and a military governor was appointed.

Union Jack

The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. The flag also has official status in Canada, by parliamentary resolution, where it is known as the Royal Union Flag. Additionally, it is used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas territories. The Union Flag also appears in the canton (upper flagstaff-side quarter) of the flags of several nations and territories that are former British possessions or dominions, as well as the state flag of Hawaii.

The claim that the term Union Jack properly refers only to naval usage has been disputed, following historical investigations by the Flag Institute in 2013.The origins of the earlier flag of Great Britain date back to 1606. James VI of Scotland had inherited the English and Irish thrones in 1603 as James I, thereby uniting the crowns of England, Scotland, and Ireland in a personal union, although the three kingdoms remained separate states. On 12 April 1606, a new flag to represent this regal union between England and Scotland was specified in a royal decree, according to which the flag of England (a red cross on a white background, known as St George's Cross), and the flag of Scotland (a white saltire on a blue background, known as the Saltire or St Andrew's Cross), would be joined together, forming the flag of England and Scotland for maritime purposes. King James also began to refer to a "Kingdom of Great Britaine", although the union remained a personal one.

The present design of the Union Flag dates from a Royal proclamation following the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of three older national flags: the red cross of St George for the Kingdom of England, the white saltire of St Andrew for Scotland (which two were united in the first Union Flag), and the red saltire of St Patrick to represent Ireland.

Notably, the home country of Wales is not represented separately in the Union Flag, as the flag was designed after the invasion of Wales in 1282. Hence Wales as a home country today has no representation on the flag; it appears under the cross of St George, which represents the former Kingdom of England (which included Wales).

White Ensign

The White Ensign, at one time called the St George's Ensign due to the simultaneous existence of a cross-less version of the flag, is an ensign flown on British Royal Navy ships and shore establishments. It consists of a red St George's Cross on a white field with the Union Flag in the upper canton.

The White Ensign is also flown by yachts of members of the Royal Yacht Squadron and by ships of Trinity House escorting the reigning monarch.

In addition to the United Kingdom, several other nations have variants of the White Ensign with their own national flags in the canton, with the St George's Cross sometimes being replaced by a naval badge omitting the cross altogether. Yachts of the Royal Irish Yacht Club fly a white ensign with an Irish tricolour in the first quadrant and defaced by the crowned harp from the Heraldic Badge of Ireland. The Flag of the British Antarctic Territory and the Commissioners' flag of the Northern Lighthouse Board place the Union emblem in the first quarter of a white field, omitting the overall red St George's Cross, but are not ensigns for use at sea.

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