Secret Cove Beach . Maui. In 1816 , Kamehameha the Great commissioned the design to a British naval officer . The influence of the UK in the design is obvious - in the upper left corner you can see the Union Flag , a symbol of Hawaii alliance with the British. A second message which means the inclusion of the Union Jack is the symbolic representation alia, a symbol of the heads , created by crossing two spears together with a vertical lance . The eight horizontal stripes that make up the body of the flag represent the major Hawaiian Islands of Oahu , Maui , Lanai , Kauai , Kahoolawe , Molokai , Niihau and the Big Island of Hawaii . The first version was comprised of seven horizontal stripes in comparison with the eight stripes today. Some say the alternating colors in white, red and blue stripes were placed in error, since the idea was to alternate red, white and blue. The flag of Hawaii means many things depending on who 's watching. Hawaii has the distinction of being the only state that was previously ruled by a monarchy . The Hawaiian flag not only represents the struggle of Hawaii and progress in modern times also continue paying tribute to a time when the Hawaiian Kingdom allowed the alii (chiefs) govern his people with absolute sovereignty . Many Hawaiians recognize their flag as a symbol of independence and a representation of the overthrow of the monarchy , pledging eternal loyalty to Hawaii as a sovereign nation . The American overthrow of the independent nation of Hawaii was not the first time that sovereignty was challenged. In 1843 , British Lord Paulette claimed the islands and was challenged by Admiral Thomas , who reaffirmed the independence of Hawaii and again granted recognition of the Hawaiian flag on 31 July of the same year. After this fight, Kamehameha III said the words that would become the Hawaii state motto : " Ua mau ke ea ka aina i ka pono " The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness . In the May 20, 1845 , Ka Hae Hawaii was dedicated at the opening of the Legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom .