The Kanaka Maoli Flag
The Kanaka Maoli (“true people” in the Hawaiian language) flag is sometimes said to be the original flag of the Kingdom of Hawaii. To some, this flag symbolizes the Native Hawaiians since the present Hawaiian flag, a hybrid of British and American symbolism, evokes images of colonialism. The colors are red-green-yellow, said to have been Kamehameha’s personal flag, and reintroduced by Kamehameha III. The central design is also present in the official coat of arms of the Kingdom of Hawai’i.
At the center of the flag is a green shield bearing a coat of arms of the kanaka maoli, made up of the royal kahili, the original Hawaiian royal standard. Crossing this kahili are two paddles, representing both voyaging traditions of Hawaiians, and Kamehameha’s Law of the Splintered Paddle. There are nine stripes unlike the eight striped flag of the present State of Hawaii. Each stripe represents one of the inhabited Hawaiian islands. They are Hawaii Island, Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, Niihau, and Nihoa.
According to this flag’s promoters, the green in the flag represents the maka ‘ainana (commoners), the land and goodness; the red represents the landed konohiki (middle class), genealogy and strength; and the yellow represents the aliʻi, spirituality and alertness to danger.
Other flags have been proposed, and interpretations of colors, but even leaders of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement often use the current state flag, since it was in effect after 1843.
Mai pale i ke a`o a ka makua
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