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World Civic Heraldry Guide: coats of arms and flags of cities, regions, states

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Hawaii, state seal

Hawaii, state seal

The great seal of the State shall be circular in shape, two and three-quarters inches in diameter, and of the design being described, with the tinctures added as a basis for the coat of arms as follows:

Arms. An heraldic shield which is quarterly; first and fourth, stripes of the Hawaiian flag; second and third, on a yellow field, a white ball pierced on a black staff; overall, a green escutcheon with a five-pointed yellow star in the center.

Supporters. On the right side, Kamehameha I, standing in the attitude as represented by the bronze statue in front of Aliiolani Hale, Honolulu; cloak and helmet yellow; figure in natural colors. To the left, goddess of liberty, wearing a Phrygian cap and laurel wreath, and holding in right hand the Hawaiian flag, partly unfurled.

Crest. A rising sun irradiated in gold, surrounded by a legend "State of Hawaii, 1959," on a scroll, black lettering.

Motto. "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono" on the scroll at bottom, gold lettering.

Further accessories. Below the shield, the bird phoenix wings outstretched; arising from flames, body black, wings half yellow, half dark red; also eight taro leaves, having on either side banana foliage and sprays of maiden hair fern, trailed upwards. [L 1901, c 16, §1; RL 1925, §143; RL 1935, §7771; RL 1945, §12941; RL 1955, §14-5; am L 1957, c 29, §1; am L 1959, c 272, §2; HRS §5-5]

The motto was adopted by the Kingdom of Hawai'i in 1843. The words were used in an address by Kamehameha III at ceremonies following the return of his kingdom from the British. An English sea captain (Paulet) had, in effect, ceded Hawai'i to England, claiming large debts owed by the Hawaiian nobility. He was acting a bit beyond his authority, and Admiral Richard Thomas was dispatched to return sovereignty of the islands to the King. Thomas Square in Honolulu is named for the Admiral.

The seal of the state of Hawai'i hangs from the mauka (toward the mountains) and makai (toward the ocean) entrances to the state capitol, and is patterned after the royal coat of arms of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, shown here at 'Iolani Palace.

From the March/April 1979 issue of Aloha Magazine on the 20th anniversary of statehood, the symbolism of the seal is described:
- 1959 represents the date of statehood.
- The rising sun replaces the royal crown and Maltese cross of the original coat of arms, and signifies the birth of a new state. King Kamehameha the Great and Goddess of Liberty holding the Hawaiian flag replace the two warriors on the royal coat of arms.
- The quartered design of the heraldic shield is retained from the coat of arms.
- The four stripes of the Hawaiian flag in each of the first and fourth quarters represent the eight islands.
- Puloulou, or tabu ball and stick, in the second and third quarters was carried before the king and placed before the door of his home, signifying his authority and power. Here, it is a symbol of the authority and power of government.
- The star represents the fiftieth star added to the national flag when Hawaii became a state.
- The phoenix, symbol of death and resurrection, symbolizes the change from the monarchy to a freer democratic form of government.
- The eight taro leaves, flanked by banana foliage and maidenhair fern are typical Hawaiian flora. Taro was the staff of life and had great religious significance.
- The state motto "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono", "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness" is retained from the royal coat of arms.


adopted (dd.mm.yyyy): 1959

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