The meaning behind the Hawaiian flag

Hawaiian flag: the British and American legacy in red, blue and white | Photo: Rommel/ISA

Hawaiian surfers are proud of their flag. Whenever they win a surf contest, they raise and wave the red, blue, and white streamer. Let's unveil the secrets of the Hawaiian flag.

Politically and in the past couple of centuries, the Hawaiian Islands have been a kingdom, a protectorate, a republic, and a state. As a result, several flags have been unfurled.

For many people, it is still intriguing to see a Hawaiian banner with British and American symbols.

So, why is the Union Jack on the Hawaiian flag? And who designed the Hawaiian streamer?

The current flag of Hawaii ("Ka Hae Hawaii," in the local language) was adopted on December 29, 1845.

It was designed based on an earlier version announced in 1816 by King Kamehameha I, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

John John Florence: carrying the Hawaiian flag in Rio | Photo: Kirstin/WSL

A Hybrid Flag

Three decades before, in 1784, Hawaii voluntarily "joined" the British Empire.

Kamehameha I had commanding power over the Pacific archipelago, but he recognized King George III as emperor.

However, the influence of the United States and its Protestant missionaries was growing fast in Hawaii.

To avoid unwanted disputes, the King of Hawaii unveiled a hybrid version that included plain references to both countries.

Alexander Adams or George Beckley? It is still not clear who designed it.

The flag flew in the Hawaiian skies for 29 years, only to be slightly revised in 1845 during the Reciprocity Treaty era, a free trade agreement between the United States and the Polynesian kingdom.

The Hawaiian flag hasn't changed since 1845. It is the only American state flag with the famous Union Jack.

The Aloha State's motto is: "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."