There is a great tradition among all 50 states of the USA of proudly declaring certain unique features that represent each state with an honorific title, such as State Flower or State Bird, or even State Insect. Some states have a State Song, a State Motto, or even a State Nickname for the citizens of the state or the state itself.

There are likely 30 to 50 things that are representative of any given state’s unique features.  It is a fascinating study to look at each state individually and recognize how much we can learn about the place the residents call home by what they call their own.

Let’s Learn Some Interesting Things About Hawai’i as a State and Maui as an Island

In this two-part series, we will look at what belongs to Hawai’i and, sometimes, in particular, what belongs to Maui. In the State of Hawai’i, each island has special attributes that are unique to that one island.

Each Island Has Its Own: 

  • Real Name
  • Nick Name
  • Color
  • Flower or Lei

Hawai’i became the 50th state of the USA after World War II. Until 1893 it was known as an independent Kingdom. Then, the Kingdom became a Republic in 1894. It later was ceded to the USA in 1898. Finally, in 1959, Hawai’i became the 50th state in the USA.

Hawai’i is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

It is  2400 miles +/- from the

continental USA (this varies, depending on where the destination on the west coast is).

A tiny area of land surrounded by the huge Pacific Ocean.

It is the earth’s most isolated landmass.

Where Did Hawai’i Get Its Name?

Captain James Cook discovered the islands in 1778 and named the island chain  “the Sandwich Islands.” This name lasted until King Kamehameha I united the islands under his rule in 1819 and he named them the “Kingdom of Hawai’i.”

Here are 6 Things that Belong to the State of Hawai’i

  • State Motto and State Seal
    The State Seal of Hawaii features the official state motto: “Ua Mau Ke Ea o ka ‘Āina i ka Pono”. Native Hawaiians translate it as “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”.  This phrase was first spoken by Kamehameha III, also known as Kauikeaouli. He was King of Hawai’i from 1825 to 1854.

  • State Flag
    Our flag was designed by King Kamehameha I. The upper left-hand corner of the flag resembles the Union Jack of Great Britain. Many of the King’s advisors were British, and Hawai’i was once under England’s protection. The eight horizontal red, white and blue stripes represent the eight main islands of the kingdom at that time. This flag has served as the flag of the kingdom, republic, territory, and the state of Hawai’i for over two hundred years! It is a bit smaller than the US flag and always flies below it unless it is on sovereign land.   
  • Official State Anthem

Hawai`i Pono`i was written by King David Kalākaua and Henry           Berger. As with any anthem, when it is being sung in public, everyone stands and most people sing.

Here is a rendition sung by the students of Kamehameha Schools

Hawai’i Pono’i

  • Official Language
    Native Hawaiian has always been the language of these islands. There was a time when kama’aina* were discouraged to speak it. During this time, children were required to learn English and forbidden to speak Hawaiian in school.  It was finally legally recognized as the official state language of Hawaii in 1978. It was very nearly lost.
  • State Philosophy
    Many of us are familiar with the nickname for the State of Hawai’i.  The ALOHA State. You may have also heard the saying, “the aloha spirit”.  Well, Hawai’i legislation has defined the Aloha Spirit as; “the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. It is the contemplation and presence of the life force.” The following unuhi laula loa* may be used:
  • State Dance and Musical Instruments
    HULA is the traditional dance form of Hawai’i. Combined with complex hand and body movements it tells a story of days of old or modern times. It is accompanied by chants, songs, and other implements and instruments. Hula is also often accompanied by the State Musical Instruments: the pahu* (kahiko*) and the ‘ukulele (‘auwana*).  


← Hula Kahiko

← Hula ‘Auwana

 Koa ‘Ukulele →

         Pahu Drum →

Today we will end with two VERY SPECIAL things that are particular to Hawai’i.

FIRST … Amelia Earhart!

On Jan. 12, 1935, Amelia Earhart brought her red monoplane to earth, in the late morning, landing on the island of O’ahu. This completed the first solo flight ever made between the Hawaiian Islands and the American mainland.


IOLANI PALACE is located on the island of O’ahu (nicknamed The Gathering Place) in the city of Honolulu.

It has the distinction of being the only royal residence to exist on American soil. It was one of the first residences wired with electricity, even before the White House or Buckingham Palace.

Iolani Palace was built in 1882 by King Kalākaua*. It holds a story of Hawaiian history when their Majesties, King Kalākaua, and his sister and successor, Queen Lili’uokalani* walked into the halls, the 10 rooms, including the throne room which doubled as a ballroom, of this 4 story, Italian Renaissance Palace.

The memories held in this palace are of grand balls, public hula performances, and the sorrowful memory of Queen Lili’uokalani, the last reigning monarch, who was imprisoned here, up to the eventual overthrow in 1893. You can still see the famous quilt she embroidered during her imprisonment preserved in her room. She chose not to resist the overthrow as it would have meant the tremendous loss of life of her beloved countrymen.

King Kalākaua and his sister, Queen Liliu’okalani

Iolani Palace →

THE Quilt ↓

Next week we will learn more about the state’s plants, flowers, animals, and sports (can you guess what one might be?).  And also, more of what belongs exclusively to Maui, besides the famous Road to Hana!


Writing and graphic creation by Sugandha Ferro Black

GLOSSARY* of Hawaiian Words

‘Auwana – modern hula

Iolani – Hawk of royalty or bird of heaven

Kahiko – ancient hula (still danced today)

Kama’aina – the locals, born and raised, child of the land

King Kalākaua – Hawai’i’s last King, built Iolani Palace, called the Merrie Monarch because he brought hula out from hiding

Pahu – hand carved drum used to accompany hula and chanting

Queen Lili’uokalani – Last monarch of Hawai’i, sister of King Kalākaua

Unuhi laula loa  – very general translation

*Please keep in mind that all Hawaiian Words have many meanings. The meanings we share here are the specific translations for the words as they pertain to this particular blog’s subject matter.


Photos courtesy of Wiki Commons (BEFORE August 2020) & other paid for or free sources unless otherwise noted.