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French Polynesia

Porinetia Farani / Territoire de la Polynésie Française et Dépendances / Tahiti Nui

Last modified: 2005-02-19 by
Keywords: polynesia | french polynesia | porinetia farani | tahiti nui | france | bora-bora | canoe | waves | sun rays | catamaran | tree | construction sheet | pacific community |
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[France]2:3      [French Polynesia (France)]2:3 | stripes 1+2+1
by Željko Heimer by Juan Manuel Gabino

See also:

Other sites:

Description of the Territorial Flag

Red-white-red in 1+2+1 proportions, with an unheraldic round device in the white field. The device has wavy lines for sea, and yellow rays for sun. In the middle, a catamaran.

Željko Heimer, 25 November 1995

The five crosses on the pirogue (a sort of catamaran) are five designed rowers. They are representing the five archipelagi of the territory (Tahiti, Tuamotou, Gambier Is., Tabuai Is. and Clipperton Is.). Before the autonomy of French Polynesia (granted in 1984), the flag was hoisted under the French tricolour.

Jerome, 28 November 1997

The Post and Telecommunications Office of French Polynesia released on 3rd August 1998 10,000 copies of a 5,000 XPF phone card dedicated to the French Polynesian flag, design after J.L. Saquet. The obverse shows a flying French Polynesian flag and is captioned Le drapeau polynésien / The polynesian flag / Te reva o porinetia. The reverse shows a static French Polynesian flag and a trilingual explanation in French, Polynesian:

I te matahiti 1984 ra i fatu ai o Porinetia i te papature Tiamaraa roto, ma te parahi noa i roto i te Repupirita Farani, o tei horoa mai ia'na i te mana no te faaoti ma te tiama i te mau tapâo araaraa no tona iho hiroâ. Au aê te reira, i fanau mai ai to tatou reva titirohia e te vaa tauati.
and English:
In 1984, French Polynesia was granted a self-government status within the French Republic, imparting it to the right to freely determine the distinctive signs of its personality. This is how today's flag, bearing the double outrigger canoe, came into being.
The card can be seen in the Post and Telecommunications Office website.

Ivan Sache, 3 December 2000

I was recently in French Polynesia for vacation. I can tell the following, not given it for official, since it was my research and observation. The flag is red-white-red with the coat of arms. This flag is derived from the former Tahitian flag of the Pomare family, who ruled some islands last century.

There are five archipelagos there, not every archipelago has its own flag.

French Polynesia is the official name of the country, autonomous since 1984. Since Tahiti is the main island (60% of the country's population), the former (pre-French colonial) dominant family was Tahitian (even if the former main island was Moorea) and locals do not like the word French for their country, they seem confortable in adopting the name Tahiti et ses Îles or Tahiti and its Islands. Such name is widespread in every local or place where no official name is necessary. It seems to be simultaneously nice for the locals and acceptable for the people of the other archipelagos. If independence was eventually reached the country could be called Fanua. This is the word for mainland or "our country" in the local Polynesian dialect.

Gunter Zibell, 22 January 2001

Translated from the Presidency of the Autonomous Government website:

Origin of the flag
The flag was presented for deliberation to the Territorial Assembly on 20 November 1984. The proposal reporters said: "For Polynesia, this flag shall mostly represent for the next generations the spirit of liberty, responsability and enterprise of a people looking to the future but attached to its dignity and blossoming through the traditional ideals."

Description of the flag
The Polynesian flag is a 1 x 1.5 m rectangle, made of three stripes, red, white, and red, respectively, the central stripe being twice higher than the two outer ones. In the center of the flag is placed the symbol of French Polynesia, a white disc (43 cm) charged with a Polynesian outrigger and its sail, in red, seen in front view and outlined in brown. Brown is also the colour of the two figureheads and the five motifs placed on the transversal platform to represent the five archipelagos [constituting the territory]. The upper part of the emblem is charged with ten golden rays symbolizing the sun, source of life. The lower part of the emblem is filled with five rows af azure blue waves, the sea being the source of abundance.

Comparing this information with what we have on FOTW, the French Polynesia flag image needs some correction since the colours of the emblem are wrong. The outline of the outrigger should be brown, the platform of the outrigger should be red and the motifs placed on it as well as the headfigures, brown. All of them are blue in our image, except the headfigures, which are missing. All of this is clearly shown on the arms on the website. Album des Pavillons 2000 shows the same emblem, but with golden-orange sunrays.

Ivan Sache, 23 February 2001

Use of the Territorial Flag

The Polynesian flag should not be flown alone, but only with the French flag (reference: Loi organique No. 96-312, dated 12 April 1996, on the autonomy statute of French Polynesia, article 1).

Armand du Payrat, 1 December 1997

Translated from the Presidency of the Autonomous Government website:

Use of the flag
The flag shall be permanently hoisted over the grounds of the institutions (Presidency, Assembly, C.E.S.C. [sic]). The flag shall be hoisted over the other public buildings during official ceremonies. The flag hoisted during the Council of Ministers, which takes place every Wednesday in the Fare Pötee of the Presidency of the Government, shall have a larger size. The decree from 4 December 1985 regulates the use of the flag and prescribes that the flags of the archipelagos and islands of French Polynesia may be hoisted along with the colours of the Territory and the Nation [i.e. the French Tricolore].

Ivan Sache, 23 February 2001

According to article 74 of French Constitution, the TOMs [Térritoires d'Outre Mer] and the territorial collectivities have a specific status. (...) In the TOMs, the national French laws shall not be applied, except if the specific texts are explicitely mentioned in the local laws. The constitutional revision of 9 June 1992 confirmed this status. Regarding the social rights, (...) citizens of the TOMs have their rights granted by the local governments.

Ivan Sache, 2 March 2002

Specifications and Construction Sheet

[Construction Sheet (French Polynesia)]
by Željko Heimer

Translated from the Presidency of the Autonomous Government website, "The Polynesian flag is a 1 x 1.5 m rectangle, made of three stripes, red, white, and red, respectively, the central stripe being twice higher than the two outer ones. In the center of the flag is placed the symbol of French Polynesia, a white disc [with a diameter of] 43 cm (...)."

Ivan Sache, 23 February 2001


[Coat-of-Arms (French Polynesia, France)]
by Juan Manuel Gabino

Translated from the Presidency of the Autonomous Government website:

Description of the arms
The traditional Polynesian outrigger was adopted as arms by the Territorial Assembly on 23 November 1984. As said by the members of the Assembly, the outrigger is "the essential tool of subsistence for fishing", "the imperative means of transportation and communication between the islands". The outrigger is also "a vessel of pomp and conquest", which was in the past "the holy attribute of the kings and the chiefs", and played a major role in the migrations and life of the Polynesians, people of the Sea. The Polynesian society is often compared to the outrigger: the [now] democratized emblem shows the choice of a social organization based on the virtues of courage, abnegation and solidarity. The arms appear on the flag and the seal of French Polynesia.

The arms are also shown on the obverse of the Cross of the Order of Tahiti Nui, created by the Territorial Assembly on 5 June 1996 [on the model of the French Order of the Legion d'Honneur].

Ivan Sache, 23 February 2001

Administrative Subdivisions

French Polynesia consists of five island groups:

Max Stanton, 4 September 1995

Moorea's flag looks somewhat similar to the blue and white one mentioned, but in 1986 it had three alternating stripes of color, green white and green, and in the center of the white section they had five stars arranged like an "x" configuration. The only other Polynesian flag I can remember clearly was the Bora Bora flag. I believe it had five thin stripes alternating red, white, red, white, red.

N.K. Smith, 20 November 1995

The territory is divided in 5 archipels (archipelagos):

  1. Îles Australes (Austral Islands), often called Tubuai Islands, including Tubuai, Raivavae, Rimatara and Rurutu. Rapa, totally isolated in the Southeast (and maybe the most isolated French possession with permanent population) is administratively attached to the Austral Islands.
  2. Îles Marquises (Marquesas Islands), including the Northwest group (Nuku Hiva, Ua Huka, Ua Pou) and Southeast group (Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata).
  3. Îles Tuamotu et Gambier. Tuamotu includes 84 islands, islets and atolls, about 40 being inhabited (main are Anaa, Aratika, Arutua, Fakahina, Fakarava, Hao, Napuka, Pukapuka, Rangiroa, Raroia, Takapoto, Takaroa, Tatakoto). Gambier includes Mangareva and several atolls (main are Fangataufa and Moruroa).
  4. Îles Sous-le-Vent (Leeward Islands), including high islands (Raiatea, Bora-Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Tahaa) and atolls (Motu One, Maupihaa, Manuae, Tupai).
  5. Îles du Vent (Winward Islands) including Tahiti and Moorea, as well as the three islets of Maiao, Mehetia and Tetiaroa.
Îles de la Societe (Society Islands) are Leeward + Winward Islands (4 and 5 above). Source: Encyclopaedia Universalis, Yearbook Les chiffres du monde, 1998.

Ivan Sache, 24 June 1999

The Presidency of the Autonomous Government website says that local flags are allowed beside the national (French) and territorial ones.

Ivan Sache, 23 February 2001

Bora-Bora Island

[Bora-Bora Island (French Polynesia, France)]
by Ivan Sache

I was recently in French Polynesia for vacation. I can tell the following, not given it for official, since it was my research and observation. (...) The island of Bora-Bora has its own flag, originated from a former royal flag in the past, Bora-Bora was an independent kingdom.

Gunter Zibell, 22 January 2001

The flag I saw opposite the main harbour of the island (Vaitape) and beside the two official flags (France and French Polynesia) was five horizontal stripes red-white-red-white-red. On a book sold [in Tahiti] about the islands there is a different version, which I also saw in a hotel: three horizontal stripes red-white-red thus identical to the Austrian flag. I am currently on travel, but when I return I will find out better.

Gunter Zibell, translated by Santiago Dotor, 23 January 2001

The first flag is exactly like that of the Bora Bora Kingdom 1847-1888.

Santiago Dotor, 24 January 2001

Tahiti Island Flag since 1975

[Possible Tahiti Island Flag (French Polynesia, France)] 2:3
by Ivan Sache

In the Flags of Aspirant Peoples chart appears "176. Tahiti - Subdivision, French Polynesia". Vertically divided red-white-red, red stripes being thinner than white stripe. The French Polynesia flag is the same with emblem in the middle. Several historical Tahiti flags had red-white-red divisions.

Ivan Sache, 17 September 1999

I do not know if there is any flag for the island of Tahiti. The horizontal red-white-red triband which served as basis for the French Polynesia flag was the last flag of Tahiti kingdom, before establishment of the French protectorate.

Ivan Sache, 21 January 2001

Saquet 1998 labels this flag, "the Tahitian flag which disappeared at the death of King Pomare V, and which was authorized again in 1975 [to be flown] beside the [French] national flag".

Gunter Zibell, 22 January 2001

In 1970 the red-white-red flag (with equal stripes) was prohibited by the French authorities. The prohibition falls in 1975 whereby the width of the stripes was changed to avoid conflicts with the Austrian flag. Sources: The Flag Bulletin III:2, Vexillinfo VII/1982 and a French flag book about Tahiti whose title I no longer remember.

Ralf Stelter, 26 January 2001

The red-white-red equal stripes flag was used until 1880 (since 1842 with French canton, several official modifications), when Tahiti became a French colony. The red-white-red flag was prohibited from 1970 until 1975. In 1975 the French authorities did not make that flag official but only allowed its use. Stripes were changed in about 1975/1976 to avoid similarity with Austria. Unequal stripes in the past were a variant but not wrong.

Ralf Stelter, 27 January 2001

Mistaken Flag

[French Polynesia, mistaken flag]
N.B. this is a mistaken flag, which has never been that of French Polynesia
by Santiago Dotor

At the 5th South Pacific Mini-Games homepage there is a page with names and flags of participating nations, the flag they use to represent French Polynesia/Tahiti is new to me.

Jostein Nygård, 16 June 1999

...and the flag representing New Caledonia is not official, and the flag of Wallis and Futuna is the specific flag of Wallis only, and most flags which should be 1:2 are 2:3, and many are inaccurate, etc. I wouldn't credit this site with any vexillological accuracy.

Pierre Gay, 16 June 1999

It looks like something similar to an erroneous flag I saw for French Polynesia. It was the French flag (with proper B-W-R, not the R-W-B shown) with what looks like a tree with two trunks in the middle. It was identified by FOTW as being the flag of French President François Mitterand.

David Kendall, 2 August 1999

That flag (...) was included as an image file in older versions of Corel Draw!.

Robert Lloyd Wheelock, 3 August 1999

Yes, the French reversed flag with central tree show in some CD Enciclopaediae (I saw in one in Spanish) as "Polynesia". It is a strange mistake.

Jaume Ollé, 8 August 1999

That flag still appeared in the last but one release of Corel Draw (#8) as "oldfchp.cdr" still there is no new "fchp.cdr"! The ratio also seems strange, ca. 4:7.

Santiago Dotor, 15 October 1999