THE HAWAI'I TARTAN (Hawaii Tartan)


This page is dedicated to the memory of Alice Herring, weaver of the original Hawai'i Tartan on her home loom, and mother of the tartan's designer Douglas Herring. She passed away at home surrounded by friends and family, on Friday July 26th 2013, with the sound of the loom in the background, as her granddaughter began to finish her current weaving project.
A spectacular lady, always so cheery, and regularly seen at local Scottish events, Alice will be greatly missed.....a sad loss to the Scottish community in Hawaii. Much aloha from Maui Celtic to the Herring family - Walt, Doug, Elizabeth and Janna.

Hamish Burgess, Alice Herring and Pipe Sgt.Tina Yap
on Tartan Day 2009 at the Hawaii State Capitol



The Hawai'i Tartan (Hawaii Tartan), sometimes called plaid here, was created by Douglas Herring on Oahu in September 1997, and was the winning entry in a contest run by The Caledonian Society of Hawai'i to find a Hawai'i State Tartan. In 2008 the Hawaii State Legislature passed a resolution designating April 6 each year as Tartan Day and recognizing the Hawaii Tartan.

It is registered in Scotland with the official Scottish Tartans Authority (Crieff, Perthshire) as the Hawaiian Tartan, with the International Tartan Index number 5163, under the category of an American State Tartan.


Doug Herring, designer of the Hawaii Tartan at a home loom

Doug Herring, designer of the Hawaii Tartan

The original cotton sample of the Hawaii Tartan was woven on a hand loom by Douglas. Additional material was set up for display at the 1998 Hawaiian Scottish Games and later woven into scarves and additional sample squares by Doug and his mother Alice.

Doug has been coming to the Hawaiian Scottish Games for over 15 years, is a member of the Caledonian Society of Hawai'i, and and counts in his heritage the Kennedy, Malcolm and Gibson clans.

His inspiration for the tartan started with an idea of a blue/green pattern, after looking at many tartans over the years, and evolved into his following complex creation.

"In the beginning, there was the sea and the sky, and they were blue. From the depths of the ocean came lava, and it was a firey red and yellow. As the lava hardened, it formed the islands, and over time turned into the 'aina, the rich brown life-giving earth. Soon the islands were covered in lush green vegatation, making them emerald jewels set in a cerulean blanket. Where the green of the islands and the blue of the ocean met formed the blue-green near shore waters, which flourished with abundant sea life. The Flora and fauna provided nourishment to the people who settled these islands, eventually adopting the red and yellow as royal colors."

So in Doug's design, the Blue represents the ocean and the sky, the Green represents the islands' foliage, the Brown stripe shows the distinctive red-brown earth in Hawaii, and the Red and Yellow represent both the fire and lava that formed the Hawaiian Islands, but also honor the Hawaiian Ali'i (Royalty).

The Hawaii Tartan is intended to be worn by Hawaiians, Scots, or folks who are "Scottish-at-heart", and is available to anyone.

The first order for kilts was made at the Hawaiian Scottish Games in 2003 by Hamish Burgess of Maui Celtic, Hardy Spoehr of the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii and Douglas Herring the new tartan's designer. Hamish was becoming impatient with the State Legislature's 2 year indecision over the adoption of the tartan, and asked Doug what he would like to see happen with his design. On replying that he wanted to see people wearing it, the decision was made to take a cotton swatch to visiting Edinburgh kiltmakers, The Celtic Craft Center, who come to the Hawaii Games every year, and have the first ever Hawaii Tartan kilts made.

The original cotton tartan swatch went to Scotland to be matched in wool, then a sample sent back to Doug in Hawaii to be checked, before returning to Scotland for the first ever bolt of Hawaii Tartan to be woven. 10 months later the first kilts arrived in Hawaii, and Doug Herring's vision was realised.

While more individuals ordered kilts on Oahu, neighbor island pipeband the Maui Celtic Pipes and Drums decided to adopt the tartan as their band kilt and ordered 8 of them. The only pipeband in the world wearing the Hawaii Tartan, the Maui non-profit band has now changed name to The Isle of Maui Pipeband (the band history is on our 'Bagpiping' page), and since ordered 14 more Hawaii Tartan kilts.

The tartan was first put to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2001, with the original bill drafted by Hardy Spoehr, and introduced in the House by Representative Ed Case as HB Bill 1474 and in the Senate by State Senator Donna Mercado Kim as Senate Bill 603, ADOPTING AN OFFICIAL STATE
TARTAN. The bill received enthusiastic support in the House but died in the Senate at that time, but was oficially recognized in 2008 when the State Legislature passed a resolution accepting the Hawaii Tartan.

The first Tartan Day Rally at the Hawaii State Capitol in 2009

The first Tartan Day Rally at the Hawaii State Capitol, April 6th 2009

The new Hawai'i Tartan is something to be shared by Scots, island residents of Scottish descent, and Hawaiians alike, as two ancient cultures come together to celebrate their remarkably similar tribal backgrounds (see below).

The Scots have long been friendly with Hawai'i, and many notable historical figures have played a significant role in the post-contact history of the Islands, more of which can be read about on the 'HAWAI'I SCOTS' page, or in the great book published by the Caledonian Society of Hawai'i, "The Story of Scots in Hawai'i" (available from the Maui Celtic 'Storefront' on the right).

In 1881 King David Kalakaua himself went to Scotland, visited Glasgow and Edinburgh, sailed up Loch Lomond, and was entertained by the pipe band of the 42nd Highlanders, The Black Watch.

The most memorable (and perhaps sadly overlooked) Hawaiian Scot was Princess Ka'iulani, last crown princess of Hawai'i, daughter of Princess Miriam Likelike and Scotsman Archibald Cleghorn, and niece of King David Kalakaua and Queen Lili'uokalani. At the young age of 17, this "daughter of a double race" sailed from the United Kindom (where she was at school) to New York, where she persuaded the American President not to annex her beloved Hawaiian Islands. A truly remarkable young woman, who's memory alone should remind today's island residents that there are close ties between Hawai'i and Scotland, which should be celebrated by wearing the official Hawai'i State Tartan.


Here's some interview footage of Hamish Burgess of Maui Celtic, talking about the Hawaii Tartan at the Princess Ka'iulani Festival in Kula, Maui, in October 2008. Great work from Frank W. Pulaski III
Senior Video Editor & Cinematographer at MauiToday.TV . Mahalo Frank !


Video hosted by MauiToday.tv


APRIL 6TH IS 'NATIONAL TARTAN DAY'.....Tartan is commonly known as 'plaid' in America. We hope you will all join us in wearing an item of tartan material that day to remember our heritage.

The contribution of the immigrant Scots upon North America is considerable and throughout Canada and America Scots and their descendants have taken the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath (1320) as their national date to celebrate their Scottish roots. This document, declaring independence, proclaims, “For we fight not for glory nor for riches nor for honour, but only and alone for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life.”

In Canada in 1991, the Ontario Legislature passed a resolution proclaiming April 6th as Tartan Day. On March 20th 1998, the American Senate Resolution 155 (S.Res. 155), proposed by US Senate Republican majority leader Trent Lott, was passed unanimously, declaring the same date National Tartan Day.

In 2008 the Hawaii State Legislature passed a resolution designating April 6th each year as Tartan Day and recognizing the Hawaii Tartan.

Monday April 6th 2009 - there was a Tartan Day Rally at the State Capitol from 3-3:30pm. In 2008 the Hawaii State Legislature passed a resolution designating April 6 each year as Tartan Day and recognizing the Hawaii Tartan. This year in gratitude for that act, The Caledonian Society of Hawaii sponsored a short Tartan Day Rally at the State Capitol.

Hawaii Tartan Day Pipers at the State CapitolBagpiping was from Tina Yap, Mike Hudgens, and Coreyanne Armstrong with drummer Tracy Burnham (of the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii), and guest piper Hamish Burgess of Maui Celtic. Speakers were Bruce McEwan, Ron McPherson and State Representative Joey Manahan. There was small tartan-clad crowd present to applaud the bagpipes, the resolution, and the contributions made by Scots to the flourishing of the State of Hawaii. See our Hawaii Scots page.

November 2011 & July 2014 - As our own supplier of kilts to Hawaii, Hamish Burgess of Maui Celtic stopped in to see Bill James at the Celtic Craft Centre kiltmakers in Paisley Close, just off The Royal Mile. The lads used to come out to the Hawaiian Scottish Festival some years ago, and are the only folks to have made the heavyweight wool Hawaii Tartan kilts to date. A range of lightweight blend items of the Hawaii Tartan are available from Maui Celtic at our online store.

Bill James with the Hawaii Tartan at the Celtic Craft Centre, Edinburgh

Bill James with the Hawaii Tartan at the Celtic Craft Centre, Edinburgh



New Hawaii Tartan Apparel is now available !

Hawaii Tartan items Sashes, Mini-sashes, Shawls, Fly Plaids, Head Wraps, Cargo Shorts, and Sport Kilts, as well as the previously available made-to-measure Scottish wool Kilts. Give a gift of Hawaii Tartan to your friends and family - you can find these new items in our "Online Store" now !





The ancient culture of the Celts , although geographically far from these Islands, did in fact have many similarities to the ancient Hawaiian culture.

Both cultures had their own mythology, legends of 'little people' and famous heros, and a belief that animate and inanimate things could posess spiritual power. They both revered the natural forces of their world, with gods and goddesses relevant to that. They both understood their place in their land, the natural way of things inherently entwined with their daily life, and so lived in harmony with nature.

Both cultures ended a seasonal war period every year when the Pleiades stars rose in the night sky, around the end of October. The Hawaiian war god Ku ended his reign, and a season of festivities called Makahiki, began under the god Lono. In the Celtic world, the war goddess The Morrigan ended her reign, and mated with The Good God Dagda, heralding the festival of Samhain.

Both cultures lived in tribes or clans, often in conflict to expand their territories, with an area of land traditionally associated with the clan. Each clan had their own chief or king, who ruled the land for the communual use of his people.

Neither culture had a system of writing, therefore had an oral tradition, stretching back many hundreds of years. The wise men, Druids in the Celtic world, and Kahunas in Hawaii, were keepers of knowledge, genaeology, history, and were healers and experts in certain fields. Both cultures were practised in the art of tattooing, and had a reputation as fierce warriors.

Both cultures at some time were taken over by outsiders, and a new religion, and were stopped from using their language, music, and traditional way of dress. Both later overcame that adversity with a revival of culture.


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