Kauai's Menehune

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According to legend, the mystical Menehune-shy forest dwellers, were credited as master builders capable of completeing major projects in a single night. The Alekoko Fishpond and the Menehune Ditch, a aquaduct that funnels water for irrigation from the Waimea River, were both attributed to their over night efforts. According to legend, the menehune worked at night so as not to be seen by others, cutting, transporting, and fitting stones for their projects in a fireman's bucket brigade. If they were discovered their work would have been abandoned. Luckily for the Hawaiians they served, the menehune were exceptionally good at remaining unnoticed.

The menehune favor Kauai's deep forests, emerging to work only at night so as not to be seen.

The Menehune Ditch,
a row of hewn stones along the inner side of the road is a remnant of one wall of an anicent water course which is said to be made by the Menehunes.

Today, scholars spectulate that the menehune may not have been an imaginary race at all, but rather the decendants of the first wave of settlers who came to Hawaii from the Marquesas sometime around the sixth century. The menehune legends come from later settlers who reached Hawaii six or seven hundred years later from the Islands of Tahiti. Scholars have concluded that this second wave of immigrants may have defeated the descendants of the original Marquesans, driving them north from the Big Island to Kauai, where they made their last stand. Only later did they emerge in their elfin guise. Linguistic support for the explanation comes from the Tahitian home islands where the word manahune derisively refer to a class of workers and slaves.

Whatever their origins, the menehune have emerged from the past as playful elves two or three feet tall, pot-bellied, hairy, and muscular, with bushy eyebrows over large eyes and a short nose with a trace of the mischievousness of their European counterparts.

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