Meaning and Symbolism Behind the Design…of My Flag

On January 17, 1893, U.S. troops took part in a conspiracy led by a small group of wealthy businessmen and sugar plantation owners to overthrow the Hawaiian Kingdom. In on the conspiracy was John L. Stevens, the U.S. minister to Hawaii, who ordered the U.S.S. Boston to land troops in Honolulu Harbor. The same day, an unarmed policeman was shot in the shoulder as he tried to inspect a wagon full of ammunition on its way to the conspirators’ headquarters. In the ensuing commotion, some of the leading conspirators ran up to the government building, located across the street from the palace, and proclaimed themselves in charge pending annexation by the United States. Minister Stevens immediately recognized this new provisional government.

Every government with a diplomatic presence in Hawaii, except for the United Kingdom, recognized the Provisional Government within 48 hours of the overthrow via their consulates, including the United States. Other countries recognizing the new Provisional Government included Chile, Austria-Hungary, Mexico, Russia, the Netherlands, Imperial Germany, Sweden, Spain, Imperial Japan, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Belgium, China, Peru, and France. When the Republic of Hawaii was declared on July 4, 1894, immediate de-facto recognition was given by every nation with diplomatic relations with Hawaii, except for Britain, who finally gave the Republic of Hawaii full recognition in November 1894, thus breaching the Treaty of Friendship with the Hawaiian Kingdom, ending the once fully recognized nation among nations, the Hawaiian Kingdom.

While one of the most recognizable symbols today of the Hawaiian Kingdom is the Ka Hae Hawai’i (Flag), it now represents a state of the Union of the United States and not a recognized nation known as the Hawaiian Kingdom. The flag that once so proudly represented a nation now symbolizes a State of the United States, the very country who took part in the thievery of our Kingdom. The symbolic “Union Jack” on the flag represented the friendship between Britain and King Kamehameha in 1793 by Captain George Vancouver. However, during the War of 1812, an American flag was raised over King Kamehameha’s home to placate American interests. It was soon removed after British officers in Kamehameha’s court opposed to it. Instead, Kamehameha commissioned a new flag, one that incorporated elements of both nations. The result is the flag we are familiar with today: the Union Jack of the British Empire sits in the top left corner, while the body reflects the stripes of America’s Old Glory. The Hawaii flag’s eight stripes represent the major Islands. Historians credit its design to an officer of the Royal Navy, who based it on a British naval flag.

Today, even though the flag has historical significance which once represented the Hawaiian Kingdom and its people, the Kanaka Maoli…the flag has lost any symbolic meaning due to the violation and breach of the Treaty by and between the United Kingdom and the Hawaiian Kingdom in November of 1894 once recognition was granted and given to the Republic of Hawaii, which today is widely evident by our people who choose to fly the flag up-side down as a sign of a Nation in distress. So, with that being said, on July 16, 2012, I decided to create a custom flag design utilizing a symbol that I truly believed best represents our people, our identity, our history as a once legally recognized country/Nation among Nations of the World and our Kingdom…the Hawaiian Kingdom Coat of Arms. The Hawaiian Kingdom Coat of Arms on the flag is NOT the Royal Coat of Arms, it is the standard arms as the Royal Coat of Arms were reserved only for the Monarchs and the Hawaiian Royal Families.

Surrounding the coat of arms is the color blue, 8 stars and the color red in the shape of a cross. The blue represents the vast Pacific Ocean which completely surrounds the Hawaiian Kingdom Coat of Arms, meaning the COA represents the Hawaiian Islands surrounded by water. The eight stars not only represents the 8 main Hawaiian Islands, but it also represents the 8 ruling Monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The red in shape of a cross represents the significant and strong religious faith, not only of our monarchs, but our people as well. No matter the religion, the cross is the most recognizable symbol of any western religion.
Symbols are significant when used to represent something like a country, a kingdom or a people. I decided (my own personal reasons) to create a symbol of hope, of unity and of meaning….what better symbol out there that BEST represents who we truly are as Kanaka Maoli O Ko Hawai’i’ Pae `Aina than the standard Hawaiian Kingdom Coat of Arms.

…the Union Jack and the 8 red, white and blue stripes, in my opinion, symbolizes betrayal, illegal occupation, violations of treaties and the broken heart of our beloved Queen Lili’uokalani…and I for one no longer can honor a symbol that the State of Hawaii displays everyday on flag poles around our Kingdom as if they were rubbing it in our peoples faces as if they were saying:

“We did this to you… you kanaka’s will never get your Kingdom back… and by the way, here’s a reminder of what we did to you, your country and your Queen…”
By flying that flag in our faces everyday as a constant reminder of what and how everything transpired on January 17, 1893, the breach of treaty by the United Kingdom in November of 1894, the illegal annexation of Hawaii in 1900 and finally the illegal transaction of becoming the 50th state of the United States in 1959..all while using the same symbol of our Hawaiian Kingdom…I can no longer have anything to do with or have any respect for a symbol, our flag, which in my eyes and heart represents everything evil that happened to our people, our identity and our Nation…if you choose to honor the Ka Hae that no longer belongs to us, then that is your choice…but I cannot and will not do it, but again, the Hawaiian Kingdom Coat of Arms is the best representation of our Lahui, our ‘aina, our identity and our Nation and not the Union Jack…but that’s just me.


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