The fifth and final quarter-dollar coin released in 2008 honors the State of Hawaii, and is the 50th and last coin in the United States Mint’s popular 50 State Quarters® Program. Hawaii, spelled "Hawai’i" in the Hawaiian language, is nicknamed "The Aloha State." It became the 50th state admitted to the Union on August 21, 1959. The release of this quarter signals the end of the ten-year 50 State Quarters Program.
The reverse of Hawaii’s quarter features Hawaiian monarch King Kamehameha I stretching his hand toward the eight major Hawaiian Islands. Inscriptions are the state motto "UA MAU KE EA O KA ‘AINA I KA PONO" ("The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness"), "Hawaii" and "1959."
King Kamehameha I is a revered figure in Hawaiian history. He unified the governance of the Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom in the early 1800s and navigated changes in Hawaii, while maintaining the native practices and traditional ways of island life. His "Law of the Splintered Paddle" guaranteed the protection of citizens from harm during war and became a landmark in humanitarian law. He is honored with a statue in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.
The 36-member Hawaii Commemorative Quarter Advisory Commission, composed of leaders and students from around the State, invited citizens to submit themes for the coin’s design. From the 400 ideas it received, the Commission developed five narratives to send to the United States Mint for consideration. These narratives were developed into design candidates by the United States Mint’s Sculptor-Engravers and artists in the United States Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program. The designs were then proposed to the State, where an online poll was conducted to determine the citizens’ preference. More than 26,000 votes were cast. On April 23, 2007, Governor Linda Lingle announced her selection of the "Hawaii, the Island State" design featuring King Kamehameha I, which was the recommendation of the Commission and also the winning design of the online poll.
The Department of the Treasury approved the design on May 25, 2007. Four other designs were considered, including "Hawaii – Diverse but Unified," an alternate design depicting the eight major Hawaiian Islands and King Kamehameha I; "Aloha Spirit," featuring a traditional female hula dancer; "Diamond Head," featuring the State’s iconic landmark; and "Surfing – Hawaii’s Gift to the World."