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The phrase “Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ‘Āina i ka Pono” is a phrase beloved by many. This phrase means different things to different people – and most feel strongly about it.

Native sovereignty groups, the State of Hawaii, and lovers of the ‘aina (land), among others ave adopted it as a heartfelt motto.

Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono is most commonly translated as “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”, though many strongly dispute translation of “ea” as meaning “sovereignty” – and under the circumstances with which the phrase was coined, it seems quite likely that this is the case.

What is not disputed is that the phrase was coined by Kamehameha III in 1843 upon the restoration of sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaii from the British. This phrase has also been adopted as the State motto.

The Hawaiian language can be very difficult to translate with precision as words have many meanings which are defined by complex nuances of unspoken context quite often not well understood by people who have not lived their lives immersed in the Hawaiian culture and language – no one alive today can say with absolute certainty what Kamehameha III meant, though the circumstances certainly do seem to speak for themselves.