When the Hawaii state quarter is released as the last in the U.S. Mint’s commemorative coin collection, it may feature a “surfer in a dignified pose,” a “culturally accurate female hula dancer,” Diamond Head, King Kamehameha, or an outline of the major Hawaiian islands. This according to the Hawaii Commemorative Quarter Advisory Commission, which yesterday announced the five final themes after months of meetings and sifting through hundreds of suggestions. “The process the public and the Commission went through was a great opportunity to reflect on what makes our island home special and what themes are most emblematic of our state,” said Gov. Linda Lingle. As the Hawaii state quarter will complete the 50-state, eight-year collector coin series in 2008, it’s expected to be among the most popular. (The most popular coin so far is the Virginia state quarter, with over 1.5 million minted since it debuted at the end of 2000.) It will now be up to the U.S. Mint to draw up the actual designs from the commission’s written concepts, working with state officials, and while the state can choose the winning design, final approval comes from the Secretary of the Treasury.
The five themes and descriptions developed by the Hawaii Commemorative Quarter Advisory Commission are as follows:
- Surfing – Hawai’i’s Gift to the World
Design Elements: A surfer in a dignified pose is standing on a long board riding a wave with Diamond Head in the background or toward the island chain. The eight major islands or Diamond Head are shown. The coin contains the word “Aloha.”
Design Narrative: Of all the world’s cultures, the ancient Hawaiians saw riding waves as a source of pleasure and sport. When Captain James Cook became the first European to visit Hawai’i in 1778, he was astonished by Hawaiians riding the waves. The commemorative coin’s depiction of a surfer in a dignified pose conveys the love of surfing that is now worldwide. The surfer with Diamond Head or the island chain in the background visualizes the theme and reflects the sport’s origin. The word “Aloha” conveys the spirit of Hawai’i. In 1998, the State Legislature by Act 174 adopted and established surfing as the official individual sport of the State of Hawai’i. Today, surfing is thought of as a lifestyle in Hawai’i-it’s part of the local culture. As an island state, the shore is the beginning of our relationship with the ocean-not the edge of the state line. Surfing expands our horizon, refreshes, rejuvenates and gives hope. It has helped people find harmony in one’s self in the vast ocean. As former Hawai’i State governor, George Ariyoshi, stated, “Those of us fortunate to live in Hawai’i are extremely proud of our state and its many contributions to the world. Surfing certainly is one of those contributions. It is a sport enjoyed by men, women and children in nearly every country bordering an ocean. Surfing was born in Hawai’i and truly has become Hawai’i’s gift to the world of sports.”
- Aloha Spirit
Design Elements: The coin shows a traditional, culturally accurate female hula dancer with her left hand up and right hand extended with palm open, and a maile lei around her neck. The island chain is above the dancer and the word “Aloha” is at the bottom of the coin.
Design Narrative: Hula has always been a focal point of Hawaiian culture and reflects many of the central ideas and events of Hawaiian history. Learning hula depicts the legends of Hawai’i, the exploits of past kings and the beauty of the islands. King David Kalakaua recognized the importance of the dance its contribution to Hawaiian culture-most notably the preservation of history. In pre-missionary days, Hawaiian was a spoken language, not written. Had it not been for hula and the many chants associated with it, the Hawaiian people would have lost a significant amount of their history. The commemorative coin also depicts the Hawaiian island chain, thus conveying a sense that each island has its own traditions but that they all share the same welcoming spirit of aloha. In the Hawaiian language, the word “aloha” means love, affection, compassion and mercy, as well as hello and goodbye. The word holds such deep meaning for island residents that Hawai’i became known as the “Aloha State.”
- Diamond Head
Design Elements: Two icons of Hawai’i-the famous west profile of Diamond Head and the classic full statue of King Kamehameha I by Thomas Gould-are depicted, along with the word “aloha.”
Design Narrative: Diamond Head, the most recognizable land formation in the islands, symbolizes Hawai’i to the rest of the world. Overlooking famed Waikiki on the island of O’ahu, this long-dormant volcanic cone is known to Native Hawaiians as Le’ahi. The English name came from British sailors who mistook calcite crystals embedded in the rocks for diamonds. With its panoramic views, Diamond Head was considered an ideal site for O’ahu’s coastal defense. It was purchased by the federal government in 1904 and subsequently fortified with artillery emplacements and tunnels. Diamond Head was later designated as a National Landmark and a State Monument. For many kama’aina (longtime residents) returning to the islands after living in other lands, seeing Diamond Head from the window of an airplane lets them know they are home. The coin also depicts Kamehameha I, perhaps the most beloved and illustrious of Hawai’i’s heroes. His greatest achievement was the unification of the islands under one government, one leader. The monarchy he created became known and respected by powers throughout Europe and America. The word “aloha” shows the love and respect with which Hawai’i residents regard all peoples of the world.
- Hawai’i, the Island State
Design Elements: The eight major Hawaiian islands are featured on the commemorative coin, arching from the lower right to the upper left. A full-body depiction of King Kamehameha I is on the right side of the coin, with his hand stretching out towards the island chain. The state motto, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘aina i ka pono,” is in the lower left quadrant. A plumeria lei border is on the left and right between the words “Hawai’i” at the top and “E Pluribus Unum” on the bottom.
Design Narrative: Hawai’i is America’s only island state, and the commemorative coin represents this uniqueness. Described by author Mark Twain as “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean,” Hawai’i is the crossroads of the Pacific where East meets West. Its location holds great strategic importance in promoting peace and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Also featured on the coin is Kamehameha I, who unified the islands and serves as a symbol for the Hawaiian people. Kamehameha I was known for his self-denial and his regard for the welfare of his people, which he put before his personal claims. His name graces schools, highways, avenues and buildings. Each year, the state observes a holiday on June 11 to celebrate Kamehameha Day. His statue serves as a symbol of the state in the National Statuary Hall in our nation’s capitol, as well as in Honolulu and Hawi, on the island of Hawai’i. In the statue, Kamehameha I carries a hardwood spear as a symbol of his ability to defend himself. He holds the spear in his left hand as a reminder that he brought wars to an end. His right hand is extended with palm open in a gesture of friendliness-the Hawaiian spirit of aloha. Kamehameha I unified the islands from many kingdoms to one, just as the United States unified all the individual states, as reflected in the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum” (From Many, One). The state motto, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘aina i ka pono,” embodies the values of Hawai’i’s people and is an example of the Hawaiian language-one of Hawai’i’s two official languages. The motto’s English translation is: “The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness.” The plumeria lei border embodies the famous aloha spirit of love, respect and welcome found throughout the islands, just as the United States welcomes people from around the world.
- Hawai’i – Diverse But Unified
Design Elements: A full-figure depiction of King Kamehameha I as pictured in the Thomas Gould statue is featured, with the eight major islands shown in relief (i.e. showing topography, mountains, etc.). On the left bottom quadrant is the state motto in Hawaiian, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘aina i ka pono.”
Design Narrative: Our commemorative coin conveys the concept that Hawai’i’s people and island landscapes are diverse but unified. Showing the island chain in relief acknowledges that the ‘aina (the land) emerged as a result of volcanic action from the depths of the sea. Each island, created by the same forces of nature, is ever evolving as a unique environment with a rich cultural and biological diversity. All of the islands are unified, however, by “pono” (righteousness). Portraying Kamehameha I speaks to the historic importance of this indigenous Native Hawaiian leader, king, descendant of chiefs and warrior who aligned the islands in the 18th century from chiefdoms into a unified political structure-a sovereign nation. Hawai’i later experienced shifts from a kingdom to a monarchy, a provisional government, a territory, and finally, a state. What did not change over time, however, are the prevailing values of island residents as reflected in the state motto, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘aina i ka pono,” meaning “The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness.” Such righteousness respects and celebrates the host culture and indigenous people of Hawai’i, as well as the Native Hawaiian language. The state motto also conveys mutual respect for the land, the ocean, the environment and each other, whether we are kama’aina (longtime residents) or malihini (newcomers). Moreover, the motto recognizes that our island home is a fragile socio-eco-system that must be cared for with vision and balance if we are to maintain well being and quality of life for future generations.