Thursday, November 03, 2011


APEC 2011 visitor’s guide to Official Symbols of Hawaii

by Larry Geller

With APEC 2011 just around the corner, we present some information to help APEC delegates understand Hawaii


Guide to Official Symbols of Hawaii

Hawaii State Seal

A large bronze depiction of the Hawaii State Seal hangs over the Beretania Street entrance of the Hawaii State Capitol. If you badly need to use a restroom, ask your driver to take you to the Capitol so you can “check out the state seal.”

Since the state refuses to use anything but English in its state documents, if the seal appears on the top of the page, at least it reminds the reader there is, indeed, a second official language. On the seal are a few words in Hawaiian: "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono,” which is translated as "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

Hawaii State Flower

Although several varieties of hibiscus are native to Hawaii, this is the official one. Each island also has its own official flower.

Hawaii State Bird

The Hawaii state bird is a goose, the nene. This goose is never cooked. It is an endangered species.

Official State Fish

Hawaii’s state fish is the humuhumunukunukuapua`a. No one would dream of calling it by its real name, Rhinecanthus rectangulus. Who could pronounce that?

Official State Shuttle

Lt. Governor Brian Schatz decided that we need to have an official state shuttle service at the airport in time for APEC. In recognition of its elevated status, the shuttle company has been granted the exclusive right to chase down customers at the baggage claim area at Honolulu International Airport. If someone solicits you for a cab ride, please understand that this is not permitted. There are no official state taxis in Hawaii, only an official state shuttle.

Official State Restrooms

The State Capitol is probably the most attractive building in Honolulu. Read about it here. One little-known feature is that there are four restrooms open to the public on each floor except the top floor. While it would be unusual for a tour bus to pull up at a Starbucks so everyone could visit the restroom (and it would be a long, long wait), tour buses routinely visit the Capitol building. So press an elevator button and enjoy the best-maintained public restrooms on the island. And no lines, ladies. Just go to another floor for additional facilities.

Official State Finger

Honolulu city planners have an easy job of it. A developer has merely to announce that they want to build something and the city fathers fall over each other to agree. The planned elevated rail project has developers salivating over the increased property values a train will bring, if it does get built. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to describe the train as an example of Development Oriented Transit.

Nevermind the loss of view planes, nevermind the destruction of the environment caused by overdevelopment and the traffic jams that come with it. Never mind that visitors such as yourselves are tired of steel-concrete-and-asphalt urban congestion. Hawaii is supposed to be sun, beach and surf. When it is all paved over and tourists no longer come, residents will get stuck with the failing economy and loss of their own open space and farmland.

With the new Abercrombie administration comes a New Day for developers, it appears. Indeed, without height restrictions, the sky is the limit for them. As to the rest of us…

While developments frequently make news in Honolulu’s one remaining newspaper, an artists rendering of a proposed 650 foot tower building recently commandeered the entire front page. It is speculated that an exemption to the height restrictions for this building will result in abandoning limits for other buildings. Here is a vision of Honolulu in the year 2050. No, not Hong Kong, Honolulu.

Waikiki 2050 with train[15]


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