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Facts About Hawaii

Hawaii Viewed from Space

Photo: Courtesy of NASA Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

State nickname:  The Aloha State is the primary nickname for Hawaii, as officially added in the 1959 legislature of the state.

Hawaiians:   In Hawaii, “Hawaiian” only refers to those who are of Hawaiian ancestry.  “Hawaii resident” is an appropriate term for anyone living on the islands.  The terms “kama’aina,” “local people” or “locals” are used for long-time residents or for those who were born in the state, regardless of ethnicity or race.  It would serve visitors to Hawaii well to appreciate and respect these distinctions.

State motto:   “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono” is Hawaii’s state motto which translates to “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”   Hawaii’s state motto can be found on the official state seal as well as on the state’s quarter.

State song:  The words of Hawaii Pono’î, Hawaii’s state song, was originally written by King David Kalakaua as the Hawaii’s national anthem in 1874.

Hawai`i pono`î
Nânâ i kou mô`î
Ka lani ali`i,
Ke ali`i
Makua lani ê,
Kamehameha ê,
Na kaua e pale,
Me ka iheHawai`i pono`î
Nânâ i nâ ali`i
Nâ pua muli kou
Nâ pôki`iHawai`i pono`î
E ka lâhui e
`O kâu hana nui
E u`iê
Hawaii`s own true sons
Be loyal to your chief
Your country’s liege and lord
The chief
Royal father
Shall defend in war
With spearsHawaii`s own true sons
Look to your chief
Those chiefs of younger birth
Younger descentHawaii`s own true sons
People of loyal heart
The only duty lies


State flag:  Hawaii’s state flag includes stripes which represent its eight major islands of Oahu, the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai and Niihau.  Its style reflects a similarity to the British East India Company flag and is a tribute to Hawaii’s historical relationship with England.  In 1990, the then governor of Hawaii, John Waihee, announced that July 31st would be celebrated as Ka Hae Hawaii Day or Hawaiian Flag Day.

Hawaii State Flag

Hawaii State Flag. From Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

State flower:  Pua aloalo or hibiscus brackenridgei was adopted as the state’s official flower in 1959.  However, it was not until 1988 that only the pale yellow variant of the hibiscus was specifically identified as the state flower.

State fish:   Hawaii’s state fish is the humuhumunukunukuapua`a and its scientific name is rhinecanthusrestangulus.  Fortunately for those who are not from Hawaii, this fish is also referred to as the Hawaiian triggerfish.

Hawaii State Fish - Hawaiian Triggerfish

Hawaiian Triggerfish [Courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson].

State tree:  The Hawaii State tree is the kukui tree or the candlenut tree.  The leaves are light green, with a slightly pointed, oval shape.  The nut of this tree is circular and has a thick oily coat which enabled the nuts to be strung and burned in centuries past.  The tree bark, leaves and seeds were used for different medicinal purposes as well as practical functions for Hawaiians.

State bird:  The state bird of Hawaii is the nene or the Hawaiian goose.  This beautiful bird has a shorter neck, a delicate beak and light golden brown feathers.  Because of a lack of predators, the nene seldom swims and does not have a necessity to fly.  Its wings are shorter than and feet less webbed than other geese, making it much more able to walk over the rocky volcanic crags where it lives.  The nene is an endangered and protected species.

Hawaiian goose

Nene Goose [Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ron Dahlquist].

State mammal:  The Hawaiian monk seal became an official mammal in 2008. The Hawaiian monk seal is only one of two remaining kinds of monk seals, and as such, they are an endangered and protected species.  The Hawaiians refer to the monk seal as the ‘llio holo I ka uaua or the “dog that runs in rough water.”

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian Monk Seal [Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Pierce M Myers].

State marine mammal:  The humpback whale or kohola was instated as the official marine mammal of Hawaii in 1979.  Whale watching in Hawaii is a popular activity as the shallows near the islands draw many whales on their migratory journeys every year.  For those vacationing in Hawaii, west Maui is one of the best places to stay on the lookout for these migrating marine mammals.


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