Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono
Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono is a well-known Hawaiian phrase which was adopted as the motto of the state of Hawaii. It is commonly translated as "The life of the land is preserved in righteousness of the people".
This phrase was first spoken by Kamehameha III on July 31, 1843 at Thomas Square, Oʻahu, when the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaii was returned by the British through the restorative actions of Admiral Richard Darton Thomas, following a brief takeover by Lord George Paulet.
Some of the words contained in this phrase have greater, more difficult to define meaning than is commonly ascribed. "Mau", for example, implies an unending continuation; "Ea" means not only "life", but "breath" and, more important, "sovereignty". Pono is a well-used Hawaiian word that cannot be concisely translated. It includes aspects of goodness, excellence, fairness, order, propriety, completeness, care, value, organization, purpose, and hope. It is commonly disputed that the word "ea" in this pronouncement refers to "life." Many now insist strongly that "ea" refers specifically to sovereignty because of the circumstances at the time Kauikeaouli uttered it. Thus, a more accurate translation is accepted as "The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." Admiral Thomas did what was righteous (pono) by returning the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi to Kamehameha III on that day.