The Aloha State

Molokai Hawaii

Molokai Hawaii

On April 23, 1959—a month after Hawai’i earned Congressional ap­proval for statehood—the territorial legislature chose “The Aloha State” as the official nickname for the state of Hawai’i. Also, each major island has a nickname/marketing tag line:

O’ahu/’l’he Gathering Place

Maui/The Valley Isle (marketed as the Magic Isle)

Hawai’i /The Big Isle (marketed as Hawai’i’s Big Island)

Kaua’i/The Garden Isle

Molokq’i/The Friendly Isle

(marketed as The Most

Hawaiian Island)

L ana’i/the Pineapple Isle (marketed as Hawai’i’s Most Secluded Island)

Ni’ihau/The Distant Isle

Kaho’olawe/The Forbidden Isle


“Hawai’i Pono H”

This song, originally titled “The Hymn of King Kamehameha I,” was com­posed in 1874 by Henry Berger, leader of the Royal Hawaiian Band from 1872-1915, as a tribute to the great warrior king. (A prolific com­poser, Berger wrote seventy-five Ha­waiian songs.) King Kalakaua later wrote the lyrics to the piece, which has since become better known as “Hawai’i Pono’i,” meaning “Hawai’i’s Own” (people). The song was cho­sen as the official anthem in 1876.

STATE BIRD: Nene A relative of the Canadian goose, the nene (Branta sandwicensis) was an endangered species until the state put it on its “protected” list in 1949. To­day, Hawaii’s state bird is making a comeback, roaming freely in parts of Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.



In 1845, Kauikeaouli (King Kameha­meha III) moved to Honolulu from Lahaina, Maui and made it his per­manent place of residence, establish­ing the city as the Islands’ center of government. Today, Honolulu, which translates as “protected bay,” is the home of more than eighty percent of the state’s population of 1,187,000 (1995 census).


The origin of the Hawaiian flag dates back to the War of 1812. Kameha­meha the Great had been flying the British banner—a gift from Captain George Vancouver—above his royal residence. During the war, American officers advised the king to show more neutrality. He and his advisers collaborated on the design for a new flag, which combines features from both the British and American flags. Hawai’i’s state flag consists of eight stripes representing the main islands of Hawai’i. The design in its upper left-hand corner resembles the Brit­ish Union Jack. Its colors are red, white and blue.



Yellow Hibiscus

hawaii flower

hawaiian flower

More than 5,000 types of hibiscus flourish in Hawai’i. They come in all the colors of the rainbow and strik­ing mixtures of these colors, the offi­cial state bloom being a vibrant yel­low (Hibiscus brackenridgei A. Gray). Each of the major islands also has an “official” flower: O’ahu— ‘ilima; Maui—loke lani; the Big Island of Hawai’i—red lehua; Kaua’i— mokihana; Moloka’i, white kukui blossom; Ni’ihau—white pupu shell; Lana’i—kauna’oa; and Kaho’olawe— hinahina.

STATE GEM: Black Coral

Looking like tree branches growing at depths of 100 to 350 feet, black coral is harvested by scuba divers with chisels and saws. It is manufac­tured into pendants, rings, necklaces and other jewelry items, and is popu­lar among both visitors and kama-‘aina.


STATE MAMMAL: Kohola (Humpback whale)

hawaiian humback whales

hawaiian humback whales

These majestic giants migrate from Alaska to warm Hawaiian waters ev­ery winter to give birth to their young. Whale-watching is best off the south­ern shore of Maui from December through May.

STATE MOTTO: “Ua mau ke

ea o ka ‘aina i kapono”

After his authority was briefly usurped by the British, Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III) included this state­ment, which translates as “The life of the land is perpetuated in righ­teousness,” in a speech he delivered at Kawaiaha’o Church on July 31, 1843.


The kukui or candlenut (Aleurites moluccana) is a large tree in the spurge family. It bears nuts contain­ing white, oily kernels that were for­merly used for light; hence, the tree is considered to be a symbol of en­lightenment.

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