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Solomon Islands

Last modified: 2009-11-13 by ian macdonald
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[Solomon Islands] 1:2 image by Željko Heimer, 6 January 2003
Flag adopted 18th November 1977, coat-of-arms adopted 7th July 1978

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Blue and green flag divided with a yellow rising diagonal and with five white five-pointed stars 2-1-2 in canton. I have estimated the width of the diagonal as 1/10 of the hoist. The stars, equally approximately, can be estimated to inscribed in circles with diameter 2/10. There seems to be no official prescription of the construction details, or at least none were reported yet.
Željko Heimer, 6 January 2003

I made the flag image comparing the shades and star positions in several sources, among them Shipmate's Flagchart, Album des Pavillons 1990 and Smith 1982. They all agree that the shade of green is a rather dark one. Blue is problem of its own, so I left one that I believe is acceptable until we get better information. This flag is used as civil, state and war flag on land.
Željko Heimer
, 20 May 2000

From Devereux 1998:

The result of official discussion and a design competition, the flag of the Solomons Islands was created in 1977 and adopted in the following year. The five five-pointed stars on the background of blue represent the archipelagian nation's five administrative units, surrounded by the Pacific (and not, as is sometimes claimed, its main islands, for of these there are six). The green is for vegetal lushness and the yellow is for sunshine.
Dorling-Kindersley 1999 [1997?] has:
The national flag, adopted in 1977, is divided diagonally by a stripe of yellow representing the sunshine of the islands. The two triangles formed by the diagonal stripe are blue and green, signifying water and the land. The five stars were initially incorporated to represent the country's five districts. The islands were later divided into seven districts and the symbolism of the stars was modified to refer to the five main groups of islands.
Symbolism of flags is usually quite subjective — this may be a good example.
Jarig Bakker, 24 October 2001

The only thing I have regarding the original legislation is a copy of the illustration by the College of Arms upon which the Royal Warrant of 18 November 1977 was granted? The only other thing on the Solomon Islands in my collection is a photograph of an actual flag sent by the Island Government, however, all that can be said about the flag displayed is that it has five white stars and a diagonal yellow stripe - but is otherwise barely rectangular.
Christopher Southworth, 6 November 2003

Coat of Arms

[Solomon Islands coat of arms]

The coat of arms of the Solomon Islands features a shark and salt water crocodile, but I don't know of any flag for Solomon Islands having the coat of arms on it, maybe a presidential flag about which we have no information.
Pascal Gross, 3 January 2004
[Editor's note: see comments on the pre-independence proposals below with information about the adoption of the coat of arms.]

Pre-independence Proposals

Before the adoption of the Salomon Islands' current flag several proposals were made. In July 1975 a contest selected the new national flag: the winner was a blue flag with yellow circle in the center containing a black frigate bird. The circle was bordered with chains. But the frigate bird was only a symbol of one of the districts and the new national flag was rejected by several people. A lot of proposals circulated then, include some from the main political leaders in parliament. I have some of the proposals images. One of the proposals changed the stars for coconuts. One of the first proposals was like the current national flag but reversed (hoist to fly), and many of them changed the current diagonal yellow bar for a yellow circle (as in the 1975 winner proposal). Benedik Kinika, Minister of Education and Culture proposed adding red colour. Gideon Zoloveke rejected the yellow color but admitted blue, green and red. Some members of parliament opposed blue because it was identified with the British era, but accepted green, yellow and white (instead of blue). My main source is The Flag Bulletin, but also personal correspondence helped me in some proposals.
Jaume Ollé
, 28 May 2000

I was an entrant in the 1975 contest to design the new national flag. As I remember it, the winning design depicted a black chain formed into an ellipse centred on a red ground. The designer, a national Solomon Islander, stated that the chain represented the 'Blackbirding' history and the red was for blood spilled. The design was published on the front page of the Solomon Islands Drum, the national newspaper at the time. It caused quite a public controversy and was finally withdrawn as the design for the flag, but it was the original winner.

At this time, I was the Visual Arts master at King George VI National Secondary School, Honiara, British Solomon Islands (1974-1978). I returned to New Zealand prior to Solomon Islands independence. The design I entered, was green, yellow and blue. The yellow (dark), was a diagonal stripe running from bottom left corner to top right corner. The upper left triangle was blue (sea/sky), the lower triangle was green (fertile land), the yellow (sun/sandy beaches). A cluster of stars in the top left corner signified the provinces, not the Southern Cross.

One of the Solomon Islander judges told me at the time that my design was favoured, but it was preferred that the winner should be a national. I was surprised later, post Independence, to learn that the adopted national flag was in fact the one submitted in the pre-independence competition by myself.

The Solomon Islands Government invited a number of pre-selected artists in and around Honiara to come up with a design for the coat of arms for the Solomon Islands when it became independent from Britain in 1978. The meetings were held at the Legislative Assembly Building, Honiara, in 1977.

As a result of the meetings my final design was selected to be sent to the Royal College of Heraldry in England. I did receive a letter of thanks from the minister who chaired the meetings.

The final design was presented as a line drawing in black and white. The heraldic shield in the centre was presented blank, for the later inclusion of the pre-existing provincial symbols. The motto, to lead is to serve was added to the scroll. The motto was contributed by a nun from Tenaru School, a fellow member of the invited artists group.

My original design included a knight's visor [helmet?] as traditionally required, but the ministers did not want this and I was told to remove it. I replaced it with the sun and war canoe. However, the Royal College of Heraldry in England to which my design was finally sent, must have convinced the ministers and slipped the visor back in, under the canoe!

I had understood that the Royal College of Heraldry would approve and present the final in colour. Somewhere in the process, a change has been made to the shark armorial bearer. It no longer has the defined shark's tail. The shark's tail has been replaced with that of a nondescript fish! Regrettably, the design has been compromised. It seems unlikely that the Solomon Island Government Printing Office would have made such an error.

John A. Hazeldine, 13 August 2001

Discussion about changes to the flag

On 29 July 2008, Frank O. Kabui, Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, sent the following letter to the Editor of the "Solomon Star":
"It is fitting to write about the national flag 30 years on. The national flag was officially adopted on 18 November 1977. I have had no access to government files but have visited the website and have this to say. The quest for the design of a national flag began in 1975. A New Zealand citizen who was a Visual Arts master at King George VI School had also put in his design. His design was blue, green and yellow. The yellow was a diagonal stripe that ran from the bottom left corner to the top right corner. This represented the sun. The upper left triangle was blue, representing the ocean. The lower triangle represented green, the land. The five stars represented the then five Provinces. His design seems to have become the national flag. The flag has become a symbol of unity. It represents our environment as a nation.
   However, I have only two matters of regret. There are now nine provinces and our flag does not reflect nine stars by 7th July, 2008. Secondly, as public record, the flag should be described in an Act of Parliament."

I can't see here five administrative divisions ever mentioned.
Ivan Sache, 30 July 2008

Maybe these are the mentioned but not listed, nor numbered, postwar districts? These were said to be 12 before the war, but that may have changed. At it says this:

"After World War II, it was reorganized into four districts, Central, Western, Eastern, and Malaita. These districts were then further subdivided into councils. The capital was also moved to Honiara. These were the political divisions that the nation inherited at its independence in 1978."

Four is getting near: Maybe the fifth entity was the capital, if separated from the surrounding province(s), like in many federal states?
António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 July 2008

In a letter to the editor of the "The Solomon Star", 15 August 2008, Sir Peter Keniloera, Speaker of National Parliament, provides the following clarification:
As someone whose Cabinet in 1978 was responsible for the final decision on the national flag – in particular all its physical features, I would like to inform the citizens of our country, that for the same concern now raised by some of our people, we decided against any feature that could be subject to change on our national flag. The five stars, for instance, do not represent number of provinces in the country then. Rather they represent the five major island groupings of our nation – Malaita, Eastern, Central, Western and the Polynesian outliers. I also try to explain this in my recently published Autobiography – “Tell it as it is” – on page 236 for any interested student in history/politics of our country.

Sir Peter's letter elicited a response by Exsley Taloiburi, published as a letter to the editor, "The Solomon Star", 16 August 2008, including the following:
Forgive me for my ignorance, but I still question the validity of our national flag features, as not truly representative of the “current” Solomon Islands. For instance, if we say that the five stars represent major island groupings then we have at least six major islands not five. Similarly, after World War II Solomon Islands was reorganized into only four districts: Central, Western, Eastern, and Malaita. These districts were then further subdivided into councils. The capital was also moved to Honiara. These were the political divisions that the nation inherited at its independence in 1978. I assume the Polynesian outliers was then categorised under the Eastern grouping. On that same note, what makes Malaita so special above the other eight provinces that its name is boldly listed as one of the stars on our national flag whilst the other eight are subdued and shadowed by general groupings such as Western, Eastern, Central and the Polynesian outliers. Is Guadalcanal, Choiseul, Isabel or Makira, to name a few, less important? Do our current leaders think that it’s still appropriate for Malaita to play a “big brother” role in Solomon Islands today? I am saying this because a founding commander of the disbanded MEF has alluded that the time for Malaita to act as a “big brother” is over and it maybe rife to rid the “one island dominancy” notion. Hence the question – is the current features of our national flag accurately reflect the true Solomon Islands today as compared to the one in 1978?

No answer to the question has been published yet in "The Solomon Star", apparently.
Ivan Sache, 1 January 2009