The Great Seal Of The State Of Hawaii History Symbolism and Uses

The Great Seal Of The State Of Hawaii: History, Symbolism & Uses

Aloha! I’ve been a Hawaiian fisherman for a long time, and one thing that’s always fascinated me is the beautiful Great Seal of the State of Hawaii. It stands out from all the other state seals in its stunning design and symbolic significance. Each element has a deep meaning that speaks to the local culture and celebrates natives’ connection with nature. In this article, we’ll dive into the background of this seal and explore why it is integral to Hawaii’s history.

From its coat of arms to its intricate designs, there’s much to discover about the Great Seal of Hawaii. As you read through its symbolism, you’ll be able to gain an appreciation for how meaningful it truly is. Not only does it represent our islands today, but it also honors those who came before us and future generations to come. With each element’s specific purpose, let’s unravel what makes up this great symbol of freedom and self-governance.

Hawaiians can honor their ancestors while marching toward a brighter tomorrow by understanding the power behind this seal. Its elements unite the people under one powerful message: Hawaiians are strong; the people’s spirit will never die no matter where life takes us next. So join me on this journey as we uncover everything about The Great Seal of the State of Hawaii – coat of arms, design, symbolism, and more!

The Great Seal of the State of Hawaii – Quick Overview:

  • Circular and 2.75 inches in diameter
  • Features quartered heraldic shield.
  • The rising sun in the center of the seal irradiated in gold
  • State motto in gold lettering
  • Represents Hawaii’s nation
  • Adopted on August 21, 1959
  • Includes a crest, blazon, compartment, and supporters
  • Crest is a rising sun irradiated Or, with the legend “State of Hawaii, 1959” in black lettering.
  • Depicts King Kamehameha I and the Goddess of Liberty

History Of The Great Seal Of The State Of Hawaii

Let’s begin with the rich of the great seal of the state of Hawaii. It started in 1845 when King Kamehameha III declared that ‘all chiefs were entitled to their seals. He was allowing his people to express themselves and show off their symbolism.

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From there, this cool symbol passed down through generations until 1959, when Hawaii officially became a US State. That’s when the Great Seal of the State of Hawaii came into its own.

The design features five petals representing each island and an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe – like our ancestors used on long trips across the Pacific Ocean! But aside from looking nice, these symbols also have deep meaning. They stand for courage, strength, unity, and independence – values we still live by today.

So yeah, that’s how this beautiful coat of arms with its unique symbols became part of Hawaiian culture forever more. A reminder of our past and present – but most importantly, a signifier of our future and everything we strive towards as Hawaiians: freedom!

Design and Symbolism

The adage goes, “a picture paints a thousand words,” and you can say the same about the Great Seal of the State of Hawaii. Let’s break down its symbolism and discover its many meanings.

From an artistic point of view, many elements of this iconic symbol carry specific meanings for native Hawaiians. 

At the center-left is King Kamehameha I wearing his royal cloak with crossed arms, holding a spear in one hand, and holding out his hand in the other, representing his power over the land and sea. 

On the center-right is the Libertas, the Goddess of Liberty, holding the Hawaiian flag and looking and pointing to the right. These two figures also represent the traditional Hawaiian culture and leadership and the new government and modern Hawaii.

In the center is a heraldic shield divided into four parts that have kept a design from the coat of arms. Two parts depict the eight vertical lines from the state’s flag, representing Hawaii’s eight islands. The other two parts depict a Puloʻuloʻu, also known as a “kapu stick,” symbolizing chiefs and royals and displaying authority. Kapu is an ancient code of conduct, like universal rules, most often stating prohibitions, and may translate to “forbidden,” “keep out,” or “sacred.” In the center of the shield is a star on a green background, representing the fiftieth star added to the flag of the USA and being the 50th state.

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Behind the shield is a rising sun which symbolizes the birth of a new state and has replaced the previous crown (monarchy). Above the sun reads 1959, the year Hawaii officially became a state. Below the shield is a phoenix spreading its wings, a symbol of death and rebirth, representing the change from monarchy to democracy.

Curved along the bottom half in a crescent shape are taro, maidenhair fern, and banana leaves, traditional plants cultivated on the islands. 

Outside the main picture of the seal is the writing on top, “STATE OF HAWAII,” and at the bottom is the state motto, “UA MAU KE EA O KA ʻĀINA I KA PONO,” which translates to “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”

Together, all these symbols signify peace and harmony among the people living in Hawaii, their history, current state, and future.

Official Use Of The Great Seal Of The State Of Hawaii

Have you ever wondered how the great seal of the state of Hawaii is used? The official use of this critical symbol has a long and storied history in the Aloha State.

As one might expect, the great seal of Hawaii gets used on documents requiring an official stamp from the government, including bills passed by the legislature to agreements signed between private corporations and government entities. It’s also part of judicial proceedings; for instance, when a judge issues a ruling or sentence, they must affix their signature alongside the great seal.

But its uses go beyond just being stamped onto paper. For instance, it can be seen adorning ceremonial items like flags and banners at public events such as parades or military ceremonies. The great seal also appears on things like coins and stamps issued by the state—it serves as a reminder that these items have been officially approved and authorized by Hawaiian authorities. And while not typically displayed prominently in everyday life, residents still recognize it whenever they see it, representing pride in their home state and respect for its laws and traditions.

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Modern Interpretations Of The Great Seal Of The State Of Hawaii

The wonders of Hawaii’s Great Seal are a symbol of Hawaiian heritage, and when mixed with modern interpretations, it carries a whole new weight to their symbolism.

It feels like yesterday when I was out on the boat fishing in Waikiki – staring at the horizon while taking in all the beauty around me and feeling that sense of freedom deep within my soul. But there is something even more symbolic about seeing the Great Seal of Hawai’i as part of our culture; it reminds us all to stay rooted in tradition yet open to change.

Modern adaptations continue to honor its original design and reflect contemporary values and beliefs. From subtle shifts in color palettes to mirrored designs, these renderings take on new meaning without sacrificing the integrity of what it stands for: pride in our past and optimism for our future.

The spirit of ‘Aloha’ lives on through each unique interpretation – no matter how big or small – evoking feelings of hope, resilience, and courage amongst natives and visitors alike. There are many ways to experience this seal – whether you’re flipping through your phone background or simply looking up into the sky at one of Hawaii’s beautiful rainbows!


We have talked about the history, design, and symbolism of the Great Seal of the State of Hawaii. It’s an essential part of our identity here on the islands and is used to represent us on documents and other materials officially. But we don’t spend enough time looking at how this seal has changed and what its modern interpretations mean for us today!