Flag of Hawaii

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Flag of Hawaii
NameKa Hae Hawaiʻi
UseCivil and state flag
AdoptedDecember 29, 1845; 175 years ago (1845-12-29) (last modified in 1898)
DesignEight alternating horizontal stripes of white, red, and blue, with the United Kingdom's Union Flag in the canton

The flag of Hawaii (Hawaiian: Ka Hae Hawaiʻi) has previously been used by the kingdom, protectorate, republic, and territory of Hawaii. It is the only US state flag to include a foreign country's national flag. The inclusion of the Union Jack of the United Kingdom is a mark of the Royal Navy's historical relations with the Hawaiian Kingdom, particularly with King Kamehameha I.[1][2] The flag continued to be used after the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.


In 1793, Captain George Vancouver, of the British Royal Navy, having previously visited the islands with Captain James Cook, returned in command of HMS Discovery.[3] During the visit, Vancouver met with Kamehameha I and presented him with a Red Ensign,[4] used by the Royal Navy at the time. The Kingdom of Ireland was not a formal part of the United Kingdom before 1801, which meant that, at this time, the British flag did not contain the Saint Patrick's Cross of Ireland. 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.[5]

Flag of Hawaii, 1816–1845
Flag of Hawaii used by the protectorate and republic

Scottish Captain Alexander Adams' journals mention the British East India Company flag when Kamehameha had originally purchased Adams' brig named the Forester and renamed Kaahumanu.[6][7] As part of the ship's transfer, the ensign of the East India Company, 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.[6] Many older Native Hawaiians prior to 1921 had believed the current flag of Hawaii was created by Adams during his trip to China in 1817.[6] At that time Adams was Commander of the Hawaiian Kingdom Navy,[8] captaining the Kaahumanu under Kamehameha I.[7] While there is no indication that the flag was either made or flown during that period, Adams did note that on his way to China, while stopping at Waimea, Kauai for supplies, he did give Kaumualiʻi his own ensign to raise at the port, as the king only had a Russian flag left from the Russian colony.[6][9]

"March 12, 1817. Gave the King (Kaumualii) our ensign to hoist in lieu of the Russian, who said that it was on account of his having no other.”[10]

There may have been different versions of the flag with different numbers of stripes and colors.[11] 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.[12]


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.[13][14]

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.[15]

Despite superficially resembling the flags of British Overseas Territories, the Hawaiian flag is proportioned differently – the Union Jack in the canton is in a 4:7 ratio,[16] and a differing standard is used to define the colors.

Lā Hae Hawaiʻi[edit]

In 1990, Governor of Hawaii John Waihee proclaimed July 31 to be Lā Hae Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian Flag Day. It has been celebrated each year since then.[17] 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.

Flag of the Governor[edit]

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".[18]


Date Flag Image
1793–1800 British Red Ensign[19] 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
1816–1845 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
1845–1898 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
1898–present Hawaiian flag used by the US territory and state of Hawaii Flag of Hawaii.svg


See also[edit]


  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. ^ MARK "KAILANA" NELSON (March 4, 2011). Learn to Play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. Mel Bay Publications. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-61065-596-5.
  4. ^ All about Hawaii: The Recognized Book of Authentic Information on Hawaii, Combined with Thrum's Hawaiian Annual and Standard Guide. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 1974.
  5. ^ Donald T. Healy; Peter J. Orenski (January 12, 2016). Native American Flags. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-8061-5575-3.
  6. ^ a b c d The Friend. 1921. p. 43.
  7. ^ a b United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (1985). Native Hawaiians Study Commission: Hearings Before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, United States Senate, Ninety-eighth Congress, Second Session, on the Report of the Native Hawaiians Study Commission. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 427.
  8. ^ Michael Fry (2001). The Scottish Empire. Tuckwell. p. 235. ISBN 978-1-86232-185-4.
  9. ^ Richard A. Pierce. Russia's Hawaiian Adventure, 1815–1817. University of California Press. p. 13. GGKEY:D93WWZ14DB5.
  10. ^ Hawaiian Historical Society (1898). Annual Report of the Hawaiian Historical Society. Hawaiian Historical Society. p. 8.
  11. ^ Howard M. Ballou (1906). The Reversal of the Hawaiian Flag. pp. 5–11. ISBN 0-8028-5088-X.
  12. ^ Quaife, Milo; M. J. Weig; R. E. Appleman (1961). The History of the United States Flag. New York: Harper. p. 154.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ BBC History, Jan 2008
  15. ^ "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey" (PDF). nava.org.
  16. ^ https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/vol01_ch0001-0042f/hrs0005/hrs_0005-0019.htm
  17. ^ "Ka Hae Hawai'i – The Hawaiian Flag". Hawaii Public Radio. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ 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[edit]