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Got my Sept issue of Hawaii mag the other day and was pleased to find an artical on Hawaii's myths & folklore that included the most believable explanation I've read so far on the subject of the Menehunes. The story goes that the Tahitians arrived on Kauai in 1000 A.D. to find a population of little people numbering about 500,000 and called them "manahune", which in their language meant commoner. The Menehunes were a nocternal people skilled in engineering and mosonry and would complete their projects in one night. Ola, the king of the Menehunes became distrustful of the Tahitians and ordered his people to leave Kauai, which they did and their wherebouts have been a mystery to this day.

After the King told them to leave, they migrated to Newport Beach. Many generations later their descendants added "Smokin'" to the tribe name. Hopefully they will produce abundant offspring and the tribe will take over Newport and surrounding communities.........the state......then the world.

[ Edited by: jungletrader on 2003-08-31 10:09 ]

[ Edited by: jungletrader on 2003-09-04 20:09 ]

I think that Trader Vic wrote something about Menehunes somewhere.

All of the Menehune pictures that I see look like children or troll dolls. Are there any traditional statues? I have been meaning to integrate my love of Tikis and Garden Gnomes, and would like to carve some concrete ones.


I hear you can see some actual menehunes play in and around OC/LA/Inland Empire. Smokin' little mo fo's!

Is it true then that they were, as a tribe, shorter than everyone else.

Could you clarify: did they work only at night, as the myth, or did they work through the night or work so fast that the projects would be completed by night.

(You have no idea how many hours are spent arguing over the different interpretations of semantics.)

Thank you for the post - excellent research.

The Menehunes have been found.....

Remains of New Species of Hobbit-Sized Human Found

1 hour, 16 minutes ago

By Patricia Reaney

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Australia have found a new species of hobbit-sized humans who lived about 18,000 years ago on an Indonesian island in a discovery that adds another piece to the complex puzzle of human evolution.

The partial skeleton of Homo floresiensis, found in a cave on the island of Flores, is of an adult female that was a meter (3 feet) tall, had a chimpanzee-sized brain and was substantially different from modern humans.

It shared the isolated island to the east of Java with miniature elephants and Komodo dragons. The creature walked upright, probably evolved into its dwarf size because of environmental conditions and coexisted with modern humans in the region for thousands of years.

"It is an extraordinarily important find," Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum in London, told a news conference on Wednesday. "It challenges the whole idea of what it is that makes us human."

Peter Brown of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, and his colleagues made the discovery of the skull and other bones, and miniature tools in September 2003 while looking for records of modern human migration to Asia. They reported the finding in the science journal Nature.

"Finding these hominins on an isolated island in Asia, and with elements of modern human behavior in tool making and hunting, is truly remarkable and could not have been predicted by previous discoveries," Brown said in a statement.

Local legends tell of hobbit-like creatures existing on islands long ago but there has been no evidence of them.


The hominin family tree, which includes humans and pre-humans, diverged from the chimpanzee line about 7 million years ago. Early African hominins walked upright, were small and had tiny brains.

The new species, dubbed "Flores man," is thought to be a descendent of Homo erectus, which had a large brain, was full-sized and spread out from Africa to Asia about 2 million years ago.

The new species became isolated on Flores and evolved into its dwarf form to conform with conditions, such as food shortages. Flores, which was probably never connected to the mainland, was home to a variety of exotic creatures including a dwarf form of the primitive elephant Stegodon.

Modern humans had reached Australia about 45,000 years ago but they may not have passed through Flores. The scientists suspect the new species became extinct after a massive volcanic eruption on the island about 12,000 years ago.

Brown and his colleagues have found the remains of seven other dwarf individuals at the same site since the first find.

"The other individuals all show similar characteristics, and over a time range that now extends from as long ago as 95,000 years to as recently as 13,000 years ago -- a population of hobbits that seemed to disappear at about the same time as the pygmy elephants that they hunted," said Bert Roberts, one of the authors of the Nature study.

dag, i SEARCHED for menehune before starting the other thread! oh well...

Is this your band?

Photo courtesy of this website.
She makes Menehunes sculptures. I do not know her. In Santa Cruz.

It's really interesting that the Mayan legend of the Temple of Uxmal in the Yucatan states that the temple was built in a single night by a dwarf wizard.

It's acutally my favorite temple in the Yucatan. The early Spanish Missionaries broke off all of the phallic rainspouts and threw them into the jungle ... they are now arranged into a charming garden, where most of them, ranging in length from 2 to 4 feet, stick straight up out of the earth. I have a picture here somewhere of my ex sitting on one of them. I'll see if I can dig it up.


[i]On 2003-08-31 00:11, Shipwreckjoey wrote:

Ola, the king of the Menehunes became distrustful of the Tahitians and ordered his people to leave Kauai, which they did and their wherebouts have been a mystery to this day.

The Menehune people were probably well distributed over all the Hawaiian islands, but myths and traditions concerning them cling more thickly to the island of Kaua'i. It is probable that the later invaders pushed them gradually out of other islands so that they congregated in Kaua'i, the last of the large islands, at the northwest end of the chain.

From there they apparently withdrew to the barren and rocky islets of Nihoa and Necker, as evidenced by numerous terraces, stone implements, and stone images.


[ Edited by: christiki295 on 2004-10-27 19:10 ]

I saw a hard-cover copy of the children's story book that Trader Vic wrote about the menehunes' legends. The vendor wanted $25.00 for it. The main character looked very similar to the current little guy on the drink picks. The overall story looked too silly, so I passed it up to buy a book from the early 60's about how to design and build parade floats, now that should come in handy!

wow......has anyone seen the menehunes cartoon , think on cartoon network??, was channel surfing once , and caught the end, and was stunned, my wahines lil nephew was over, and asked whats a menehune??....i went and grabbed a swizzle stick, and told the little guy the story, he kept the swizzle and still has it to this day..............sorry for the cheese ball post, but i thought it was pretty cool....

In my research of Menuhuene, I read from a book at my school that the "small people" was mis translated by Westerners. The "small people" weren't actually smaller in size, just class. The commoners were refered to as "small people" like Shipwreckjoey stated in the article from Hawaii mag. This race of commoners apparently had a strong work ethic, but working at night was apparently added by Westerners. If anyone wants a reference of which book, I'll go dig it up. I go to the Oceanea section everyday inbetween class. This is just the version I've read, and don't believe it over any other's version.

[i]On 2004-10-27 23:24, tikitony wrote:

The "small people" weren't actually smaller in size, just class. . . . . This race of commoners apparently had a strong work ethic
. . .

Weren't the menehuene a subservient class brought from Tahiti specifically for construciton and related projects?

(Maybe you better get that book).

Using legends and myths for recording what people were actually like very seldom yields concrete facts.

Often things like different shaped houses, maybe with lower roofs lead one tribe to believe from a distance that another are elfin, and if the tribes are competitive, the description by one to another is seldom complementary.

A common theme with explorers writings from Viking Rhuns, Lewis and Clark to the Blair Bros. is having one group inform you what vermin the neighboring group will be.

Weird US Investigates Some Small Wonders: the Miniature Menahune of Hawaii
When the first modern Hawaiians reached the islands in the third century AD
they found evidence that others had been there before them. They called these
people Menehunes, and attributed the dams and small viaducts, such as the
Menehune Ditch (which carries water for irrigation from the Waimea River) to their
great strength and prowess as master builders.
Menehune are usually described as playful and even mischievous. They have
distended bellies. They are hairy, muscular and two or three feet tall, with bushy
eyebrows over large eyes. They have short noses. Their diet was said to have
consist of puddings made of squash, sweet potatoes, and taro leaves. They sleep
in caves by day and work all night, and love racing and wrestling sports. When they
speak it is the sound of a low hum so as not to attract attention to themselves.
One site in Hawaii often credit to skills of the Menehune is the Alekoko Fishpond in
Nawiliwili. The 1600 year old dammed holding pen is said to have been constructed
by the Menehune at the request of Chief Ali’I, and was built in a single night.
Menehune would only work at night and only if they were not watched. Menehune
are thought to be notoriously shy creatures and would abandon a construction
project in the middle if they heard so much as a dog barking. This seems to have
been the case at the Alekoko pond, as one of the retaining walls was finished at a
later date using different stone.
The Menehune used lava rock because it is very strong. They are said to have
been carried to the fishpond from Kalaheo, employing a sort of bucket brigade of
thousands of Menehune passing the stones by hand.
According to legend, the Menehune inherited the islands after their war with the
Nawao, who are said to have been full sized wild men who inhabited the islands
before them. When modern Hawaiian’s arrived at the islands they began to inter-
breed with the Menehune. Soon though, the newcomers began to enslave and
even kill the smaller islanders and force them into the hard labor projects of quar-
rying stone and building. The Menehune began to retreat into the mountains and
forests to escape their oppressors. Over time they developed a lifestyle in which
they could survive in their environment without being detected.
Some historians believe the Menehune to be more than just a quaint island legend.
They say that there did, and perhaps still does exist a race of small Pigmy-like
people who did and may still inhabit the furthest reaches of Hawaii’s forested
mountains and ancient volcanoes. As proof they have cited the small burial cham-
bers and undersized graves found in remote caves throughout the islands. Still
others claim that the Menehune might actually be some species of undiscovered
Hawaiian primate. One thin is for sure though: Whether they are fact or fantasy,
people or primates, the Menehune have left an indelible mark on the legends and
the landscape of the Hawaii islands.
According to the Encyclopedia Mythica by Hugh D. Mailly:
The folklore of many nations around the world includes stories of magical little
people. The most famous of course, are the leprechauns of Ireland. In Hawaii,
it is the mischievous Menehune who are said to haunt the deep forests or the
mountains of Pu'ukapele ("Hills of Pele"). They come out mostly at night to play
tricks on people, or to serve them if they feel that way inclined.
The mythology of the Menehune is as old as the beginnings of Polynesian history.
Some say that the great god Maui himself, was one of the tiny creatures. When
the first Polynesians arrived in Hawaii, they found dams, fishponds, and even
Heiaus (temples), all presumably built by the Menehune who were already there,
living in caves.
The creatures are said to be about two feet high, although some have been seen
as small as six inches, capable of fitting in the palm of someone's hand. They are
always naked, but the long straight hair that falls to their knees keeps them warm
and discreet. Apparently no two of them are the same, and they can be so moody
as to be malicious and dangerous one day, and simply harmless the next. But they
are always tricky, and therefore should be avoided, unless a special favor is abso-
lutely needed of them.
In the old times, some Hawaiians married Menehune girls, who were said to be
quite fair, but needed to be shown how to make a fire and eat cooked food,
because their own diet consisted only of starchy raw vegetables. The services
of Menehune expert builders and craftsmen can be requested. This is especially
so, if you can trace your family tree back to one of them. They then act like
benevolent godparents. Many a major project, such as the preparation of a wed-
ding feast, has been completed in a single night by the super strong little gods,
while all humans slept.
Menehune are afraid of owls. On the island of Kauai, the Menehune sometimes
sneak in among the people there and pull too many tricks. That is when the owl
god of Paupueo (owl hill) summons all the owls of Kauai to chase the Menehune
back into the forest.
The little ones are fond of dancing, and singing, and of sports, such as shooting
arrows. Sometimes they use magic arrows, to pierce the heart of angry persons,
and make them feel love instead. They also truly enjoy diving off cliffs into the
surf. If you hear splashes in the night at Kaanapali, it is possibly a Menehune
diving off Black Rock! But you would have to move impossibly quickly to ever
see one.

Way to bring it, Bull hiki!

this stuff is really pretty facinating to me


Wow! The description almost fits exactly the ebu gogo hobbits recently found in indonesia...

3 feet tall, pot-bellied, hairy, eat raw food (Ebu gogo means "grandmother who eats anything) and mumuring to each other in a soft language...

that is just what the ebu gogo legend describes! And the most amazing thing is the historical records from the dutch traders in the 1500, who heard about these hobbits directly from the indonesians on flores island...

There is a slight chance they are still around! Hidden, in the deepest jungles and in the caves!

Dwarves, elves, hobbits, leprechauns, menehunes, yetis.....all of a sudden I am starting to believe the hype! These creatures were more then likely real, and not made up!

Meet cousin Florence

Oct 28th 2004
From The Economist print edition

A new and diminutive species of human being has been discovered

IN THE 1890s, Eugene Dubois, an anatomist working as a doctor in the Dutch army, stunned the scientific world when he found the first fossil human remains outside Europe. Java Man—Homo erectus, as it is now known—threw ideas about human evolution into chaos by suggesting that Europe was not, as most anthropologists had hitherto assumed, the cradle of human evolution.

As it turned out, neither was Asia. The evidence now shows that all the important developments in human evolutionary history, from the appearance of Australopithecus (the first species generally regarded as human) to the emergence of Homo sapiens (you and me), happened in Africa. But Asia can still spring the odd surprise in the field. And few finds have been as surprising as that made last year on Java's Indonesian neighbour, Flores, and announced this week in Nature. For Homo floresiensis, as the new species has been dubbed, suggests that the ascent of man is not an evolutionary inevitability. Descent is also possible. That is because Homo floresiensis (whose skull is pictured above, alongside that of a modern human) was but a metre tall, and had a brain not much bigger than an ape's.

In a truly ancient fossil human from, say, 3m-4m years ago, those dimensions would not be surprising. But the skeleton found by Peter Brown, of the University of New England, in Armidale, Australia, and his colleagues from the Indonesian Centre for Archaeology in Jakarta, is a mere 18,000 years old. That means it was alive at a time when Homo sapiens had not only come into existence, but had already reached Australia.

A little puzzle
The species is not, however, a descendant of Homo sapiens. A tooth from a lower soil layer in the cave where the main skeleton was found shows it evolved before modern humans arrived in the area. It was thus one of several species of humanity, such as Neanderthal Man, that were pushed aside by the rise of Homo sapiens.

That, in turn, suggests it was descended from Dubois's Homo erectus. But Homo erectus was as big as Homo sapiens—in some cases bigger. And if erectus was not in quite the same intellectual league as modern man, it was certainly no dunce. Its brain could be as big as 1,250cm3 (compared with 1,400cm3 for a modern human). That of Homo floresiensis, by contrast, was a mere 380cm3. Dr Brown knows this because he measured the volume by the delightfully low-tech technique of pouring mustard seeds into the fossil's cranium after he had cleaned the interior.

Nor is there any doubt that the skeleton is that of an adult (probably, from the pelvic anatomy, a woman). Her teeth are worn, and some telltale bones in the skull are knitted together in an adult way. On top of that, although they are not described in the paper, Dr Brown's team has now found five more specimens which confirm that she was not an abnormally small member of her species.

Of course, a small animal will have a small brain. But what is noticeable about Homo floresiensis is how small the brain is, even in comparison to the diminutive body. The species had regressed, more or less, to the brain/body ratio found in Australopithecus. The question is why. And the answer to that question may shed light on the wider question of how human intelligence arose in the first place.

Islands are famous for generating indigenous species from whatever biological material pitches up on them. One frequent trend observed in such island species, at least when they are large mammals, is dwarfism. Elephants seem particularly susceptible. The last mammoths, which lived on an island off the coast of Siberia, were, paradoxically, dwarfs. Similar elephantine examples are known from Malta, Sicily and, indeed, Flores itself. And the same thing has been observed in cattle, too. There seems no reason why it should not happen to hominids.

Two evolutionary pressures are thought to drive this process of diminution. One is that islands are often free of large predators (on Flores, the largest were Komodo dragons, a species of large lizard). The other is that they sometimes have a restricted food supply. The result is that you do not need to be big to defend yourself; and if you are big, you may starve.

Both of those facts might drive the evolution of smaller brains, too. Brains are expensive in terms of energy consumed, and thus food needed. And an absence of predators would remove at least one reason to have a large brain. In other words, use it or lose it.

Why human intelligence evolved in the first place, though, is controversial. Many researchers feel that it was not so much to deal with the non-human world (eg, predators and food-gathering) as to deal with other people. One theory, known as the “Machiavellian mind”, is that intelligence is there to analyse, and thus manipulate, the motives of others. Another, known as the “mating mind”, is that much of human intelligence is about showing off to the opposite sex, in a behavioural equivalent of the peacock's tail. Both could be true. Whether either of these purposes would disappear on an island is moot.

All this is speculation, of course. And human fossils are so rare that there is a risk of over-interpreting each new find. What would help is evidence of Homo floresiensis's culture, if any.

One possible remnant of that culture is the numerous stone tools in the cave where the skeleton was found. These are small and delicate, which suggests they might have been made and wielded by tiny hands. Nor do they bear much resemblance to the tools of Homo erectus. But they do date from a period when the island could have been inhabited by Homo sapiens. So who made them is unclear. In any case, tool-making is not an exclusive badge of intellectual advancement. Australopithecus used stone tools, and modern chimpanzees make and use tools, too (though admittedly not stone ones). If tools were useful to Homo floresiensis on its island home, natural selection would have retained the ability to make and use them even if other mental faculties dwindled.

Regardless of how these questions are settled, what is clear is that Dr Brown's find has changed thinking about the way humanity has evolved. If Homo floresiensis was flourishing 18,000 years ago, the chances are it did not die out until much more recently. Indeed, it is conceivable that it lasted into historical times. Much of Homo sapiens's vision of itself is built around the idea of human uniqueness. That it was not unique until so recently should give pause for thought—and will no doubt spur others to follow Dubois's lead and look for further species of fossil human in previously unexplored places.

According to Glen Grant's "Chicken Skin" books (about supposed supernatural manifestations in Hawaii), the menehune are still seen on occasion; they are like miniature ghosts, and leave little footprints. They seem to be the Hawaiian Islands' version of fairies or gnomes. Cartoon images and dolls depict them as cute and childlike, but in the eyewitness accounts, they are not typically described that way.

Put those together with the nightmarchers (the nocturnal processions of ghostly royalty and their courts) and that's a lot of interesting stuff going on (supposedly) in Hawaii.

kuuipo posted on Mon, Nov 1, 2004 5:33 PM

Thus Aloha Spirit - all about love.


The first time I read about "Menehunes" the legend was that they were all through the Islands, pre-dating the Kanaka Maole (1st Hawaiians) They were thought to have arrived from the Marqueses Islands about 400 years before. Like christiki293 had read, They were pushed to the forrest of Kauai where they made their last stand. one article I read said that the Tahitian word for "Slave" was Manahune. It stated that early census had some claim "Menehune" as Ethnicity. Its Kinda interesting how the story has been cleaned up a little. It was not a retreat from a larger aggressor but the MENEHUNE, who CHOSE to leave so as not to have to mingle with the newly arriving Neighbors....Hmmm?

It is known that the Hawaiian Islands were occupied at the time of the Tahitian invasion and occupation. Who exactly the occupants were and what happended to them is not known. One source suggests Marquasans where the first occupants. But new evidence points to Oceanic negritos. Anthropilogists and genetisists are finding that negritos were the first modern humans to occupy South East.Pockets are still found in the mountains of mainland South East Asia. They still occupy the Andaman Islands and the mountains of the Phillipines and they occupied Tasmania until the 19th century. They were probably the foundation of modern melinesian populations with later racial admixtures. They were obvioulsy great sea men to have reached such far flung destinations in the Indo-Pacific. All Pacific migrations originated from South East Asia, so it would not be impossible for them to have discovered and settled the Hawaiian Islands first. It would explain the noted size difference with the Tahitians who were among the tallest people on earth. They were either slaughtered or made slaves and eventualy died out. There was no trace of them left by Cook's time except the stone works that Polynesians claimed they did not create and attributed to the menehune. There may have been a Marquasan settlement before the Tahitian invasion, but by Cook's time the Hawaiians were all of Tahitian ancestry as shown by thier geneologies and genetics. So the modern day relatives of the menahune may be living in the Phillipines or the mountains of South East Asia


Funny - little people? magic arrows? shot into hearts? Anybody else make the cupid connection there?

And as for them being little "night creatures" - I can just see the really bad Charles Band Horror movie coming to a local MEGA plex near you - "MENAHUNE! - Just when you thought it was safe to eat poi again!!"

[ Edited by: Maori_man on 2005-06-09 08:40 ]


While on Kauai I read that the menehune fishpond in Nawiliwili just went on the market for 12 million! I tried to find the article online but only came up with this:



P. S What am doing surfing the web while on the islands?
one word...sunburn!


Menehunes are real. How do you think I surf TC and get all my work done. It helps to have a few menehune drinks before asking for help. I appreciate all the research, but really, just ask me and I will tell you all about them.

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