Hawaii’s State Motto: Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono


I took this photo of Hawaii’s motto at the gates of the Iolani Palace in Honolulu.  It says, “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono” which literally translates to “the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”  This motto was further explained to me to mean “to do what is right in your life and for the land.”  That’s a great motto, isn’t it? 

  1. @ Hawaii Tours – It’s a good one for sure. I also like my home state of NC’s motto – “Esse quam videri” which is Latin for “to be rather than to seem”. To me that means, be sincere, be transparent, be ethical, be hard working, which are all traits that I admire.

  2. It was originally 3 more words, meaning, “in Jesus Christ” which was later taken off for unknown reasons.

  3. i understand the Hawaii’s motto came from an address speech of King Kamehameha, but do anyone knows who actually wrote the motto phrase for the King?

  4. The phrase was originally spoken by Queen Keopuolani in Sept. 1823, on her deathbed as she was baptized into the Christian faith, which is probably why she said “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness in Jesus Christ” (In Hawaiian). Keopuolani was the mother of Liholiho and Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha II and III), so what was said with her last breaths was important and most likely repeated by advisors to the kings. When Admiral Thomas admonished Capt. Paulet and restored the Kingdom of Hawaii to Kamehameha III in 1843, his mother’s words were memorialized in “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono” which some say actually means “The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”
    Why was “in Jesus Christ” dropped? In Hawaii’s Edict of Toleration enacted in 1839 and in the 1840 Constitution, it allowed for religious freedom as the Protestant leaders controlled the religions and laws which affected other churches and Native Hawaiians who still believed in their old religion.
    Kamehameha III was very progressive. In Oct. 1840, he established Hawaii’s first public education system making the Hawaiʻi State DOE the oldest school system west of the Mississippi River, and only system established by a sovereign monarch.

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