The Hawaii State Flag

Friday, January 9, 2009


I came across a post from that I wanted to share. The post itself is actually from this past October, but I found it featured in the magazine’s best posts update early this year.

From What’s the story behind Hawaii’s flag?

I had previously known some of the history and meaning behind the flag, such as the Union Jack and the eight stripes for the eight major islands. I didn’t know, however, about the Kanaka Maoli, or Native Hawaiian, flag. The post, while brief, does a good job explaining the background of the state flag, so I’ll let you read that.

Our Hawaii State Flag

Our Hawaii State Flag

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in the past, but we ourselves are proud owners of a full-sized Hawaii State flag. It might sound odd (at least it did to one of the staff at the Sheraton), but I was really keen on bringing one of these home during our first Maui trip. Little did I realize these weren’t the exciting tourist item that everybody was selling.

We checked everywhere we could think of: almost all the ABC Stores, Whalers Village, Lahaina Cannery Mall, up and down Front Street, and no luck. As a last ditch effort, and seeing the sign along Hwy 30 in Lahaina, we stopped into the Ace Hardware store of all places, and sure enough, I got my flag!

Nowadays, that everlasting reminder of Hawaii is hanging on the wall above my desk in my office at home, as you can see below. Those bottles pictured there are also reminders of our time on Maui, although they have since moved on to a better place. Those are bottles of Ocean Vodka, made with water from 1,000 ft below sea level off the shores of Maui. But that’s another post.

Ocean Vodka, Flag

About Kris

Kris and his wife Cindy are avid Maui fans, and have visited the island half a dozen times since '06. Over the years, they have made many friends living on Maui or through social media, which keeps them in touch with the island until they can return again.

View all posts by Kris

6 Responses to “The Hawaii State Flag”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I caution anyone to get the facts correct regarding a State of Hawaii flag that is flying upside down:
    Go to:
    “The upside-down flag of Hawaii, which was the flag of the Kingdom as well as the State, symbolizes a “nation in distress” and is a common sight in the islands today…”
    While many locals may be weary of tourists, the people of Hawaii should not be considered as dangerous. Many times tourists are inconsiderate and disrepectful of the land and people of Hawaii, as if the people of Hawaii are not human. Anyone visiting Hawaii should just be considerate and sensitive to the people who live their daily lives here.

  2. Kris Nelson Says:

    Mahalo for your feedback and my apologies for any unintentional harm or disrespect the comments in this post might have portrayed. I was merely relying something that was mentioned to us by a tour guide, and you are correct, in that we can’t always assume what they’re telling their guests is the entire truth.

    I tried the web address you posted, but that page didn’t exist. I searched the site and I believe this is the one you were referring to:

    I echo your thoughts and concerns about visitors to these beautiful islands needing to respect the land and the people of Hawaii. I have not heard or personally seen cases where visitors have treated the people of Hawaii as inhuman, but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. I think regardless of Hawaii or not, no person visiting another land or culture should ever be disrespectful to the residents there. I like to think that would be the common courtesy of most people everywhere, but we know it is not a perfect world we live in.

    I will say this, that all the people I’ve interacted with while visiting Maui, whether they’re employed in the tourism industry or just residents I’ve met throughout the island, have been the most friendly and welcoming folks I’ve ever met. It saddens me that a good number of visitors to the islands don’t take the time to appreciate that more often.

    I like to welcome as much insight to the all aspects of life and visiting Hawaii here as possible, and I encourage you (and others) to continue providing feedback if there are any inconsistencies or other comments here that might otherwise need further clarification. Furthermore, I wanted to thank you for keeping your feedback respectful and constructive, as far too often I’ve come across threads and comments on blogs across all different topics that are far too negative and, for the lack of a better term, nasty.

    Mahalo again, and please accept my sincerest apologies.

  3. Gunnar Says:

    I just came back from Hawaii – (Kaua’i, Maui, Hawai’i) – and I was curious while there to see what the attitudes of the islanders might be on some “issues”….so I made a google search trying to find comment on upside down flag which I observed many times and that’s how I landed here….
    It seems to me that US “culture” has completely overwhelmed the “original” culture and that cannot be a happy thing…nowhere, no way…
    My view is that Hawaii should be a fully independent and sovereign “land” and not be a part of the imperial construct Americans like to call “union” sometimes…but usually “nation” – which it isn’t and which the Islanders, sadly, refer to as “the mainland”…
    The US command structure imposing itself on these islands is an insult and insulting to just about everything.
    I am a Swede living in Southern California, just fyi….there is much to be said about this, perhaps, but I won’t go any further…
    I don’t know how the Hawaiians feel, but I do know that there are stirrings for “liberation” from the evil hegemon, as there should be…the US is not a “free country” anymore if it ever was and the elimination of this post will only serve as a hint to that fact.
    It was awkward and sad to see Hawaiians effectively, if subtly, subjugated by the Empire…Freedom is what Hawaii deserves…and I have no doubt, that a free and fully independent Hawaii could do just fine…and the population could be proud again and choose their own path towards the future….

  4. Kaululani Says:

    Aloha and thank you for your honest comments. I can say that they younger youths of Hawaii argue about what they see and know in this time being. However, in my time it took me a long time to understand what was going on around me. I still am having a hard time coping on what hawaiian looks like today.I DONOT agree with what America is doing. But, i do know my family and I still practice the old ways. When you think about it, its much more respected and cleaner for each other and also for the land and environment.

  5. Kris Says:

    Thank you for sharing your comments. I think many cultures still have their traditions and ways of doing things that they wish to preserve and pass on to their children and grandchildren.

    And I can sympathize with the feelings of being “invaded” and taken over as part of the United States. I don’t have the advantage of seeing what is happening around the islands on a day to day basis, but thanks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and the kind Aloha my family has received on many trips to the islands, we have made great friends, both kama’aina and born on the islands, that we keep in touch with regularly.

    Everyone has their own story, but they all seem to be doing things and focusing the energy on improving the stability and life on the islands. It put things in perspective for those of us on the mainland who may sometimes take things for granted now and then.

    The past events being what they were, I am encouraged by all the positive Aloha and initiatives that I’m exposed to from afar, that many common visitors might not notice when they’re visiting for the first time.

  6. Don Miller Says:

    I believe that the United States illegally took over Hawaii against the people’s wishes. With 620,000 in Hawaii in 1959 only 120,000 voted. Why didn’t the other 500,000 vote? True, that the majority of the 120,000 who voted, voted for statehood. But the ballot was fraud. There was nothing on it for Independence. If you were in the Military and lived there for two years you could vote. If you were a foreigner and lived there for thirty years and were not a citizen you couldn’t vote. If you were a Hawaiian and not a citizen you couldn’t vote. We invaded their land in 1893 and just took over. We got rid of their Queen. It’s no wonder they fly their flag upside down.

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