Ke Ao Maoli
The British Union Jack was a gift from Capt. George Vancouver to Kamehameha I when Kamehameha ceded the islands to King George III in 1794. Kamehameha continued to use the flag on his inter-island schooners and ships to show their status to visiting ships. In 1816, Kamehameha formed a committee consisting of himself, John Young, Isaac Davis II, Capt. George Beckley and Capt. Alexander Adams, to design a new flag. Adams, as commander of Kamehameha's 16-gun Forester, wanted official ship's papers and a unique Hawaiian national flag. He feared the Union Jack on a Hawaiian ship in a foreign port might lead to seizure. The jack remained in the design of the flag as a sign of friendship and respect to Great Britain and the stripes alternated white, red and blue, repeating the three colors of the jack. After Kamehameha approved the design, flags were made using cotton bunting.
It is illogical to even think that succeeding monarchs would have used any flag other than one approved by and used by Kamehameha I. And as stated by Kau`i, if this "kanaka maoli" flag was being used prior to the Paulet episode, why was it then NOT raised at the restoring of the Kingdom to Kauikeaouli, Kamehameha III, by Admiral Thomas? Why is there no Hawaiian quilt from the 19th century depicting this kanaka maoli design?
The explanation of the colors and design of the kanaka maoli flag are questionable too. Look at the center design. If it looks familar it's because it is the design found in the center of the Hawai`i Coat of Arms. Those are not crossed paddles. They are crossed spears upon which a kahili is leaning. The Hawaiian Coat of Arms was designed in London, commissioned by William Richards and Timothy Ha`alilio in 1843 at the request of Kamehameha III. The herald makers of England were not familar with the insignia of the Hawaiian Islands and therefore the design had some flaws such as the shape of the kahili and the pulo`ulo`u looking like flowers. On March 8, 1938, Maude Jones, Archivist of the Territory of Hawai`i, wrote to the College of Arms in London. They located an old colored reproduction "which appears to give an accurate representation of the Arms, Supporters, etc. of the old Kingdom of Hawaii." In the description is found:
"The triangular flag at the fess point was an ancient flag of Hawaiian Chiefs which was raised at sea, above the sail of their canoes, and the sail at that time being of a peculiar construction, it presented a very beautiful appearance. It was also placed in a leaning position across two spears in front of the King's house to indicate both tabu and protection. The name of the flag was puela, and the name of the cross on which it lies alia."
The inaccuracies found in this description are obvious for we know that the "flag" referred to is actually the kahili as evidenced in the succeeding sentence that it was "placed in a leaning position across two spears". We know that the kahili is NOT a flag, but if the herald makers were told of the feather "standard" of the Hawaiian royalty, they may have interpreted that to mean flag. The use of the term "puela" is also inaccurate for according to Mary Kawena Pukui, puela is "a long tapa strip, as used for a marker or banner". It is well documented in the paintings by John Webber, official artist aboard Capt. Cook's ship, such 'banners' are seen at the top of the sail on Hawaiian canoes. Mrs. Pukui also gives the meaning of alia as "the name of two kauila or mamane sticks carried by priests before the makahiki god; also the two crossed spears with upright spear in the center, used as insignia for the present-day Mamakakaua society; small flag or streamer."
The existence of this 'kanaka maoli' flag seems most unlikely. Our Hawaiian newspapers date back to 1834 and surely there would have been some mention of such a flag. But, there is no evidence to support Gene Simeona's story.
If our red, white and blue flag with the union jack in the corner was the flag approved of by Kamehameha himself, why would we even consider using something else? It was the flag of Kamehameha and all the succeeding monarchs after him, the flag of the Kingdom of Hawai`i, the flag proudly sewn into the beautiful Ka Hae Hawai`i quilts. Until such time as a new Hawaiian nation is formed and possibly new insignia, I will proudly honor the Hawaiian flag that we have all known.
Another flag that has been seen more often in recent years is the "Hawaiian People's Flag" sometimes referred to as the "Kanaka Maoli Flag" or "native Hawaiian Flag."
As Chris Bailey wrote on hawaiimagazine.com in October 2008, this flag is "said to have been Kamehameha’s personal flag long before the modern Hawaiian flag. British navy Captain Lord George Paulet destroyed it when he took control of Hawaii for five months in 1843. At the flag's center is a green shield bearing a coat of arms, which include a kahili, the original Hawaiian royal standard, and two paddles, meant to represent the voyaging tradition of the Native Hawaiians. The flag's color scheme is red, yellow and green, meant to represent different groups within Hawaiian society. The yellow is symbolic of the alii, the powerful royal class. Red represents the konohiki, the landed caste that served the alii. Green signifies the makaainana, or commoners."
As was reported in the Honolulu Advertiser in February 2001, Gene Simeona of Honolulu "ran into a descendant of Lord Paulet on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace in 1999 who told him the present Hawaiian flag is not the original. That provoked Simeona to scour the Hawai'i State Archives, where he found the design, then reproduced it. Since then, he and his business partner Stan Fonseca have been churning the emblem out in hopes that it’ll catch on as a fresh, noncolonial symbol of the restored Hawaiian kingdom."
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