Buy State Flags from 
Allstate FlagsBuy US flags 
from Five Star Flags
This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website


Republic of Kiribati

Last modified: 2005-03-19 by rob raeside
Keywords: kiribati | ocean | bird | frigate bird | sun |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[ Kiribati ]

[FIS Code]

by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 03 December 2002

Flag adopted 12 July 1979, coat of arms adopted 1 May 1937

In this page:

See also:

Description and history of the flag

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 Colony
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

Meaning of the Flag

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:

Official description
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

Coat of Arms

[ Coat of Arms ]by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 13 March 2003

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

Coat of Arms 1937-1979

[ Coat of Arms 1937-1979 ]
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 Tuvaluan languages.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 02 December 2002

See also: