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Flag of Hawaii
Name Ka Hae Hawaiʻi
Use Civil and state flag Small  vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Proportion 1:2
Adopted December 29, 1845; 178 years ago (1845-12-29) (last modified in 1898)
Design Eight 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. The flag continued to be used after the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.


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.

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.


Flag of Hawaii (1816)
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.

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 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.

Flag of Hawaii (1896)
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, 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. 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.

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.

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".

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


Date Flag Image
1793–1794 British Red Ensign British-Red-Ensign-1707.svg
1794–1816 Flag of Great Britain (probably not updated in 1801) Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg
1816–1843 Early version of the present flag Flag of Hawaii (1816).svg
Feb 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
May 1845 – Feb 1893 The current Hawaiian flag introduced in 1845 Flag of Hawaii (1896).svg
Feb 1893 – Apr 1893 U.S. Flag (after the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii) US flag 44 stars.svg
1894–1898 Hawaiian flag re-adopted by the Republic of Hawaii Flag of Hawaii (1896).svg
1898–1960 Hawaiian flag used by the U.S. territory of Hawaii Flag of Hawaii.svg
1960–present Hawaiian flag used by the State of Hawaii Flag of Hawaii.svg


See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bandera de Hawái para niños

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