Flag of Hawaii

Flag of Hawaii
Name Ka Hae Hawaiʻi
Use Civil and state flag
Proportion 1:2
Adopted December 29, 1845 (1845-12-29)
Design 8 alternating horizontal stripes of white, red, and blue, with a Union flag in the canton.

The flag of the state of Hawaii (Hawaiian: Ka Hae Hawaiʻi) is the official flag symbolizing Hawaii as a U.S. state. The same flag had also previously been used by the kingdom, protectorate, republic, and territory of Hawaii. It is the only U.S. state flag to feature the Union flag of the United Kingdom, a remnant of the British Empire's influence on Hawaiian history.


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, Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Maui, Molokaʻi 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.[1][2]

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, U.S. state and U.S. territorial flags ranked.[3]


Flag of Hawaii (1816–1845)

There are various accounts of the earliest history of the flag of Hawaii. One relates how King Kamehameha I flew a British flag, probably a Red Ensign, given to him by British explorer Captain George Vancouver as a token of friendship with King George III. Subsequent visitors reported seeing the flag flying from places of honor. 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 historically accurate, one account stated that in order to placate American interests during the War of 1812, a flag of the United States was raised over Kamehameha's home, only to be removed when British officers in the court of Kamehameha vehemently objected to it. This explains why the resulting flag of Hawaii was a deliberate hybrid of the two nations' flags.[4]

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 Beckley. It was very similar to the flag of the British East India Company in use 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.[5]

Flag of Hawaii in 1896

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 erroneously placed the stripes in the order white-red-blue,[6] although it seems 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 possibly different versions of the flag with different numbers of stripes and colors.[7] 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 was adopted and is used today.[4]

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.[8]

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".[9]

Standard of the governor before statehood in 1959
Standard of the governor of Hawaiʻi


Date Flag Image
1793–1794 British Red Ensign[6]
1794–1816 Flag of Great Britain (probably not updated in 1801)
1816–1843 Early version of the present flag
Feb 1843 – July 1843 Union Flag (during the Paulet Affair)
July 1843 – May 1845 Early version of the present flag
May 1845 – Feb 1893 The current Hawaiian flag introduced in 1845
Feb 1893 – Apr 1893 U.S. Flag (after the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii)
1894–1898 Hawaiian flag re-adopted by the Republic of Hawaii
1898–1960 Hawaiian flag used by the U.S. territory of Hawaii
1960–present Hawaiian flag used by the State of Hawaii


See also


  1. "Name and Insignia of Hawaii – State Flag". Hawaii State Library. 2006-03-01. Archived from the original on May 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
  2. BBC History, Jan 2008
  3. "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey - NAVA.org" (PDF). nava.org.
  4. 1 2 Quaife, Milo; M. J. Weig; R. E. Appleman (1961). The History of the United States Flag. New York: Harper. p. 154.
  5. Henry Whalley Nicholson (1889). From sword to share: or a fortune in five years at Hawaii. W.H. Allen & Co. pp. 83–85.
  6. 1 2 "Hawaii: historical flags". Fotw.net. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  7. Howard M. Ballou (1906). The Reversal of the Hawaiian Flag. pp. 5–11. ISBN 0-8028-5088-X.
  8. "Hawaiian Flag Day Proclamation". Archived from the original on July 3, 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-26.
  9. "Name and Insignia of Hawaii – Governor's Flag". Hawaii State Library. 2006-03-01. Archived from the original on May 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-25.

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