The State Seal of Hawaii features the official State Motto Of Hawaii: “Ua Mau Ke Ea o ka ‘Āina I ka Pono;” The State Motto is “The life of the land is preserved in righteousness” (Hawaiian is also officially recognized as the state’s native language). This phrase is written in Hawaiian on everything official, from work trucks to the governor’s office. The Hawaii State Motto was adopted by the Kingdom of Hawai’i in 1843.
The saying is attributed to King Kamehameha III as of July 31, 1843, when the Hawaiian flag once more was raised after a brief period of unauthorized usurpation of authority by a British admiral. On May 1, 1959, State Motto Of Hawaii “Ua Mau Ke ea o ka Aina I Ka Pono” was adopted as the official motto of the State of Hawaii by Joint Resolution No. 4 of the 30th Territorial Legislature.
There is a great story of how the phrase began. This is the short version:
It was Uttered by King Kamehameha III in a speech in 1843. In February of that year an overly bold British Captain, George Paulet sailed into Honolulu and decided to take over the kingdom. He went ashore, pushed out the king and set himself up as ruler of Hawaii. His obnoxious rule lasted for five months. In July, five months later, noble English Captain Richard Thomas sailed in, strutted into the capitol and told Paulet to leave. It wasn’t hard since Captain Thomas was his commanding officer. In a speech praising the great rescuer, the king said that the kingdom is preserved in “Pono” or righteousness, the goodness of Captain Richard Thomas.
Before becoming the Hawaii State Motto, these words were part of the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the seals of the Republic of Hawaii and the Territory. King Kamehameha III issued this State Motto Of Hawaii upon the restoration of the Hawaiian flag to the kingdom by the British in 1843. The law designating the official Hawaii State Motto is found in the Constitution of the State of Hawaii, Article 15, Section 5.