Hawaii State Native Language


King Kamehameha Parade

2012 King Kamehameha Parade in Honolulu, Hawaii; King Kamehameha Warriors: photo by Daniel Ramirez on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Native Hawaiian Language

Native Hawaiian was recognized as the official state language of Hawaii in 1978. The state motto and state song are in native Hawaiian, and Hawaii's motto appears on the state seal and on the U.S. Mint's bicenntenial commemorative quarter for Hawaii. The legal language states:

"The Hawaiian language is the native language of Hawaii and may be used on all emblems and symbols representative of the State, its departments, agencies and political subdivisions."

A Few Hawaiian Words

These word definitions are excerpted from an article on Senator Fong’s Plantation & Gardens:

Love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, sentiment, grace, charity; greeting, salutation, regards; sweetheart, lover, loved one; beloved, loving, kind, compassionate, charitable, lovable; to love, be fond of; to show kindness, mercy, pity, charity, affection; to venerate; to remember with affection; to greet, hail. Greetings! Hello! Good-by! Farewell! Alas!

A dance characterized by rhythmic body movements, a hula dancer; to dance the hula; song or chant used for the hula; to sing or chant for a hula.

Garland, wreath; necklace of flowers, leaves, shells, ivory, feathers, or paper, given as a symbol of affection; beads; any ornament worn around the head or about the neck; to wear a lei; crown.

Hawaiian feast, named for the taro tops always served at one. This is not an ancient name, but goes back at least to 1856, when so used by the Pacific Commercial Advertiser newspaper; formerly a feast was pa’ina or ‘aha’aina.

Thanks, gratitude; admiration, praise, esteem, regard, respect; admire, appreciate.

Parent, any relative of the parent’s generation, as uncle, aunt, cousin; progenitor; main stalk of a plant; adult; full-grown, mature, older, senior.

Family, relative, kin group; related.

A four-stringed instrument shaped similar to a very small guitar. [Literally defined as "leaping flea"; probably derived from the Hawaiian nickname of Edward Purvis, who was small and quick and who popularized this instrument brought to Hawai'i by the Portuguese in 1879.]



A representation of Hawaii's great seal hangs over the main entrance to the Hawaii State Capitol; photo by Bill Sodeman on Flickr (use permitted with attribution / share alike). 

Great seal of Hawaii

The U.S. Mint's bicentennial commemmorative state quarter for Hawaii features a statue of Kamehameha I, an outline of the state, and the state motto: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka 'Āina i ka Pono (public domain image on Wikipedia).

Hawaii quarter