June 14, 2005

Horse 356 - The Flag of Hawaii

Yesterday was the Queen's Birthday holiday in NSW (maybe that's why she's so old - she has two birthdays a year) and something struck me as quite odd. Australia is still part of the Commonwealth and as such still retains the Union Flag in the canton but what of Hawaii?

Yes Hawaii. 50th US State and given status in 1949, that Hawaii. The Hawaii that had it's own king even. So then, how could a state of the US of A still retain the Union Flag even though at no point in its history was it ever a British colony or dependancy?

The answer lies in an accident as much as the discovery of the Australian east coast in 1770. James Cook's first voyage from 1768-1770 had been scientific in nature and he'd hoped to carry out experiments on the transit of Venus; they failed so sailing home he found this big sort of island thing (Australia) and then went home.

Cook's 2nd and 3rd voyages were more based around finding Terre Australis and possibly a trade route back to Britain. On his 3rd (and final) trip in 1778 he found a group of islands and named them after his boss Lord Sandwich. He then continued east until he found the west coast of America but alas, no way through. So he then headed back through the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) whilst complaining of a stomach ailment (probably from walrus meat) and was subsequently speared and killed by the Hawaiians over an altercation over some stolen rowboats.

I guess that there must have been a fair degree of guilt between the two parties, because when George Vancouver visited in 1814, he gave King Kamehameha I (not to be confused with Dragonball Z) a Union Flag as a token of the friendship between the two countries - yes I mean countries. Hawaii was a kingdom in its own right. At some stage the Union Flag was incorporated as a gesture of goodwill and peace between the two nations.

It's a strange one anyway, here is an entity which was never part of the British Commonwealth and yet still flies the Union Flag anyway. So while we in Australia fly corrupted Blue Ensigns as a symbol of subjugation, Hawaii does so though an historical oddity.

1 comment:

Katja said...

I don't blame Hawai'i for not altering their flag once they became a US state! We're the creeps who literally FORCED annexation upon them, which was a victory for the money-hungry foreigners living there but quite tragic for the indigenous people.