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Who are the Menehune?

No matter which island you visit, you’re likely to encounter tales of the legendary Menehune. Each island has its own stories of the original inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands, but just who are these elusive people? Legend has it that the Menehune lived in Hawaii long before Polynesian settlers arrived, and the Menehune are responsible for many mysteries that are still unexplained today.

According to the legends of ancient Hawaii, Menehune are small in stature, similar to the size of dwarves, and are were expert craftspeople, able to complete nearly impossible projects and tasks in a single night. Ancient Hawaiian legends hold that each Menehune was an expert in one specific craft, with each contributing one function that was accomplished with great precision and expertise.

When the first settlers arrived to the islands, they found many structures that are still in existence today. Roads, dams, fishponds, and even temples were discovered and the evidence of the high-level of craftsmanship was evident.

Oahu’s Kualoa Ranch features fishponds that are reminiscent of the fishponds constructed by Menehune, and the island of Kauai actually has a fishpond that are said to have been constructed by the legendary Menehune. One of the most prominent Menehune constructions is the lava rock wall between the Alekoko Fishpond and the Hule’ia River, stretching 900 feet long and 5 feet tall, and creating a dam that prevents fish from crossing the dam into the river, creating a food source for locals.

While the existences of Menehune have long been debated, there is no debate to their influence on the islands. The legendary islanders are featured as the mascot of a number of elementary and high schools on Oahu, and their likeness are found on souvenirs at local stores. Local families even give Menehune credit for things that cannot be explained or when household items miraculously start working after not working previously.

Whether legend or truth, the Menehune have left their mark on the island, and are given credit for great feats that have stood since the days of ancient Hawaii. While visiting the islands, keep your ears open for stories of the Menehune. Their existence is important to the history of Hawaii and the legends and stories are everywhere.

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