Last modified: 2023-10-14 by ian macdonald
Keywords: kiribati | ocean | bird | frigate bird | sun |
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DK Pocket Book gives additional information about the adoption of the flag:
"Shortly before independence was granted in 1979, a local competition was held to choose a new national flag and a design based on the colonial coat of arms, was submitted. The College of Arms decided to modify the design. Both the golden frigate bird and the sun were enlarged to occupy more of the top of the flag and the width of the blue and white wavy bands was reduced. However, the local people insisted on the original design, in which the top and bottom halves of the flag were equal, the sun and local frigate birds small, and the various design elements outlined in black. The new flag was hoisted during the independence day celebrations in the capital, Tarawa, on 12 July 1979."
And if you check Smith, the flag represented is the rejected design, the flag represented above is also the rejected design!
Ivan Sache, 31 December 1999
The flag is the banner of the arms that was given to Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1937. The Ellice Islands became what we know as Tuvalu today, and the Gilbert Islands changed their name to Kiribati, but the shield remained the same. It is red with white-blue wavy lines in bottom representing the ocean, golden sun rising from it, and above it a bird flying. This flag came in use in 1979.
Until then Gilbert and Ellice used blue duster with the same shield, and a motto 'Fear the God, respect the king'. This was official since 1969. What is actually written there is: 'Maaka te atua, karinea te uea; mataku i te atua, fakamamalu ki te tupu'.
Željko Heimer 29 February 1996
"Kiribati" is pronounced Kirribarce (accent on the first syllable), and is
a rendering into an Oceanic language form of the English name Gilberts (the
shorthand form of the Gilbert Islands' name). So in one sense it didn't really
change its name, just the spelling.
Stuart Park 29 February 1996
The sun has 17 rays (because there are 16 atolls in the Gilbert Islands
group, plus Banaba, former Ocean Island = 17); there are 3 main waves under the
sun (because there are 3 groups of islands in the republic: Gilbert, Phoenix and
Line Islands). These symbols have been decided by Sir Arthur Grimble for the
flag, capital on Ocean Islands (but of course, at that time, the Ellice Islands were also part of the colony).
Vincenzo Guglielmelli, 31 August 2004
Kiribati National Identity Act 1989 includes precise construction details
for the whole flag, including frigate bird, sun and sea waves.
Antonio Gutiérrez, 17 February 2007
The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags
and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag
designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for
their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm
version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the
official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC
believed the flag to be. For Kiribati: PMS 032 red, 109 yellow, 286 blue and
black. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees
Ian Sumner, 11 October 2012
image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 18 March 2014
Based on http://www.paclii.org/ki/legis/num_act/nia1989197/index.html
Several variants of the Kiribati flag have been reported: see
Variants of the flag
Euripides Filippidis, 13 July 2018
In a letter to the Western Pacific High Commissioner, it was written
(concerning the badge):
Sea. Represents the space of the ocean in which the colony is isolated.
Sun. The islands lie close to the 180 degree meridian. Sun is either rising or setting.
Bird. Frigate bird (Fregat Aquilla) symbolises power, poise and freedom. To the natives it is a sign of sovereignty and kingly birth, and highly regarded as such.
A.G. 15 August 1931.
A.G. may have been Arthur Grimble, who wrote a book 'Pattern of Islands' (in the USA 'We Chose the Islands'), published 1952, about his time as a Colonial Administrator in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.
As originally proposed, the badge had a crown, on the shield, above the frigate bird, but this was removed by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee.
David Prothero, 11 May 2004
A government publication produced in 1984 show the details of the flag of Kiribati. There are two pages, one shows the flag captioned "The National Flag of Kiribati" (with very minor differences to what we have above, most notably the beak of the bird and the waves seems somewhat "flatter"). The other page contains the following text:
The bird is a frigate bird which represents power, freedom and Kiribati cultural dance patterns.
The rising sun is the tropical sun as Kiribati lies astride the Equator.
The sea is the Pacific Ocean which surrounds Kiribati.
The dimensions of the flag i.e. the length is twice the breadth.
Colours: Frigate bird, sun and sun rays - Gold BSI 381C No. 355 & Admirality colour T 8514M
Sky - Red BSI 581C No. 539, Admirality colour T 8514H & C.A. pattern M.P. 2362
Wavy Bands - Blue BSI 381C No. 110 & C.A. Pattern M.P. 2358
Wavy bands - White, plain Admirality colour T 8514J & C.A. Pattern M.P. 2363
Željko Heimer, 2 May 2004
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 18 March 2007
The Kiribatian coats of arms, was first granted to the Colony of the Gilbert
and Ellice Islands on May 1, 1937, and slightly modified on July 12, 1979, when
Kiribati achieved independence from Britain. The motto reads: "Te mauri
te raoi ao te tabomoa" (Heath, Peace, Prosperity) in Kiribatian language.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 02 December 2002
According to "The Flag Bulletin" XVIII:4 (july-august 1979) page
119 - the motto means "Well Being, Peace, and Prosperity".
Christian Berghänel, 03 December 2002
"Te Mauri", in the motto, means "Health", "Well being" but it's also the
normal greeting for "Hello!'
Vincenzo Guglielmelli, 11 March 2003
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 02 December 2002
The motto reads: 'Maaka te atua, karinea te uea; mataku i te atua, fakamamalu
ki te tupu' (Fear God and Honour the King) in both Gilbertan (Kiribatian) and
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 02 December 2002
Photos of possible Kiribati municipal or atoll flags can be found at
Jens Pattke, 21 September 2006
It's not clear what the status of these is. The Tabueran and Kiritimati Is
photos show something in the form of a flag, but the others are banners on two
poles. The Maiana banner is clearly specifically for the National Championships,
and I wonder how many of the others were too. Nonouti and Tab North would seem
to be, but I suspect they are not the only ones. The exception is the Betio Town
Council photo, which shows a flag in front of a banner (with text only). The
flag cannot be seen completely, but seems to be a red-blue-green vertical
tricolour, with three blue and two white wavy horizontal stripes across the
middle of at least the red and green sections, and yellow five pointed stars.
Four stars are visible, one a the top of the red section, one at the bottom of
the blue and two in the green section.
Jonathan Dixon, 21 September 2006
I saw today a TV show in German TV, which was showing scenes of the Southern
Seas. The cruise ship had in harbour a flag on the bow, which looked like the
coat of arms of Kiribati in the center of a blue flag. I had just a glimpse and
the ship was at that moment officially in a Chilean harbour, but who knows, what
the cutter did? So, is there a civil ensign of Kiribati?
J. Patrick Fischer, 1 January 2011
So, in other words, it's exactly the same as the
government ensign of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands pre-Kiribati independence
David Kendall, 1 January 2011
The Customs Acts of 1993 and 2005 do not prescribe a particular Customs flag.
The Customs flag up to about 1993 had a Union
canton, blue upper fly and white lower flag half with 'HMC' in bold black
thereon. The same design was prescribed for the British Solomon Islands, Fiji,
Tuvalu, and a similar one with the red cross canton for Tonga.
Jeff Thomson, 23 November 2015