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The Hawaiian flag is iconic, with the Union Jack in the corner and eight stripes representing the major Hawaiian islands. But there has been debate around changing the flag to better represent native Hawaiian culture and history. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: There is an ongoing debate in Hawaii about whether the state should adopt a new flag that better represents native Hawaiian history and culture, with supporters wanting to remove the Union Jack. In this article, we’ll dive into the history of the current state flag, arguments from both sides on changing it, and what a redesigned Hawaiian flag might look like.

We’ll provide an in-depth look at the debate around changing the Hawaii state flag. With a history stretching back over 100 years, the flag is an important state symbol, but also contains reminders of colonization. Should Hawaii follow other post-colonial territories and adopt a new banner?

History of the Current Hawaii State Flag

Origins in the Late 1800s

The current Hawaii state flag has a rich history that dates back to the late 1800s. It was first adopted on December 29, 1845, during the reign of King Kamehameha III. The design of the flag was inspired by the Union Jack of the United Kingdom, as Hawaii had strong ties to the British Empire at the time.

Originally, the flag consisted of eight alternating red, white, and blue stripes, representing the eight main islands of Hawaii. In the upper left corner, there was a British Union Jack, symbolizing the close relationship between Hawaii and the United Kingdom.

However, in 1894, the Republic of Hawaii was established, and the flag underwent a significant change. The stripes were removed, and instead, a field of eight alternating white, red, and blue triangles was introduced. This new design symbolized the eight main islands of Hawaii, with the colors representing the different elements of nature.

Symbolism of the Design Elements

The current design of the Hawaii state flag is rich in symbolism. The eight triangles represent the eight main islands of Hawaii: Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. The colors of the triangles also hold significant meaning.

The white triangle symbolizes purity and innocence, while the red triangle represents bravery and valor. The blue triangle signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice. Together, these colors and shapes encapsulate the spirit and values of the Hawaiian people.

The Union Jack in the upper left corner of the flag is a reminder of Hawaii’s historical ties to the United Kingdom. It serves as a symbol of the strong relationship between the two nations and the influence of British culture on the Hawaiian islands.

For more information on the history and symbolism of the Hawaii state flag, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii State Legislature:

Arguments For Changing the Flag

Removes Vestiges of Colonial Rule

One of the main arguments for changing Hawaii’s state flag is that it would help remove the vestiges of colonial rule and promote a sense of independence. The current flag, which features the Union Jack in the top left corner, is a reminder of Hawaii’s past as a territory of the British Empire. By changing the flag, Hawaii can symbolically assert its autonomy and move towards a future that is free from the influence of colonial powers.

Furthermore, changing the flag would send a strong message to the rest of the world that Hawaii is a modern and sovereign state. It would demonstrate the state’s commitment to self-governance and its desire to distance itself from its colonial past. This could have positive implications for Hawaii’s international reputation and its ability to negotiate on the global stage.

Better Represents Native Hawaiian Culture

Another compelling argument for changing the flag is that it would provide an opportunity to better represent Native Hawaiian culture. The current flag, while it does feature the Union Jack, also includes eight stripes representing the eight main islands of Hawaii. However, some argue that this design does not adequately capture the rich cultural heritage of the Native Hawaiian people.

By designing a new flag that incorporates traditional Native Hawaiian symbols and imagery, Hawaii can create a flag that is more inclusive and representative of its diverse population. This would not only be a source of pride for Native Hawaiians, but it would also serve as a powerful symbol of unity and inclusivity for all residents of the state.

It is important to note that the discussion about changing the flag is ongoing, and there are differing opinions on the matter. Some argue that the current flag is a symbol of Hawaii’s history and should be preserved, while others believe that changing the flag is a necessary step towards a more equitable and inclusive future.

For more information on the topic, you can visit where you can find a detailed analysis of the arguments for and against changing Hawaii’s state flag.

Arguments For Keeping the Current Flag

Flag is Part of Hawaiian Identity

The current flag of Hawaii, with its distinctive Union Jack in the upper left corner and the eight alternating horizontal stripes, has been a symbol of Hawaiian identity for over a century. It represents the state’s historical ties to the British Empire and the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people. Changing the flag would mean severing this connection and potentially erasing an important part of Hawaii’s history.

Moreover, the flag is recognized worldwide as a symbol of Hawaii. It is proudly displayed in government buildings, schools, and homes, serving as a reminder of the state’s unique and vibrant culture. The flag has also become synonymous with Hawaii’s tourism industry, attracting visitors from all over the world who are drawn to the beauty and allure of the islands.

By preserving the current flag, we are honoring the past, celebrating the present, and ensuring that future generations can continue to identify with and take pride in their Hawaiian heritage.

Costs of Changing the Flag

Changing a state flag is not a simple task and can come with significant costs. The process would involve designing a new flag, conducting public consultations, and implementing the necessary changes across the state. These expenses would include printing and distributing new flags, updating government documents and websites, and replacing flags in public spaces.

Additionally, changing the flag could lead to confusion and a loss of brand recognition. The current flag is instantly recognizable and has become synonymous with Hawaii. Changing it could potentially impact tourism, as visitors may no longer associate the new flag with the beauty and allure of the islands.

Considering the potential financial burden and the potential negative impact on Hawaii’s brand, it may be more prudent to allocate resources towards other pressing issues that can benefit the state and its residents.

What a New Hawaiian Flag Could Look Like

As discussions about the possibility of changing Hawaii’s state flag continue, it is worth exploring what a new flag could look like. A new flag would not only represent the diverse and vibrant culture of Hawaii but also reflect the state’s unique identity. Here are some design ideas that could be considered:

Designs That Incorporate Cultural Symbols

One option for a new Hawaiian flag is to incorporate cultural symbols that hold significance to the people of Hawaii. These symbols could include elements such as the hibiscus flower, which is the state flower of Hawaii and represents beauty and delicate nature. The honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtle, is another symbol that could be included to represent wisdom, longevity, and protection. By incorporating these cultural symbols into the flag design, it would not only pay homage to the rich history and traditions of Hawaii but also create a visual representation of the state’s values and beliefs.

Another potential design element could be the use of traditional Hawaiian patterns and motifs. These intricate designs often feature geometric shapes and repetitive patterns that have deep cultural and spiritual meanings. By incorporating these patterns into the flag, it would create a visually striking and unique design that is instantly recognizable as Hawaiian.

Options Without the Union Jack

Currently, Hawaii’s state flag features the Union Jack, which represents the state’s historical ties to the United Kingdom. However, some argue that the inclusion of the Union Jack is no longer relevant and does not accurately represent Hawaii’s identity as a diverse and independent state. As a result, there are options for a new flag design that does not include the Union Jack.

One possibility is to replace the Union Jack with a symbol that represents the state’s indigenous people, such as the Hawaiian flag known as the Kanaka Maoli flag. This flag features eight alternating red, white, and blue stripes, representing the eight main islands of Hawaii. The flag also includes a Union Jack in the top left corner, symbolizing the historical connection to the United Kingdom. By using the Kanaka Maoli flag design as inspiration, a new flag could be created that represents Hawaii’s indigenous culture and acknowledges its history.

Ultimately, the design of a new Hawaiian flag should be a collaborative effort that involves input from the people of Hawaii. It should be a symbol that unites and represents the diverse communities and cultures that make up the state. Whether it incorporates cultural symbols or explores new design elements, a new flag has the potential to be a powerful symbol that reflects the spirit and identity of Hawaii.


The Hawaii state flag has a long history, but also contains symbols of British colonialism that some find offensive. There are reasonable arguments on both sides for changing or keeping the banner. Supporters of a new flag want one that better represents native Hawaiian cultural identity. If Hawaii does eventually change the flag, the state will need to navigate designs that respect history while looking to the future.

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