A Search for the Menehune People

by Sidnee on May 10, 2014

The following was posted on my original Menehune website. Because of the interesting comments on the post, I have reposted it here. Feel free to comment.

by Sidnee Wheelwright on December 7, 2009

Over a decade ago, I spent the summer working for NaPali Eco Adventures, an eco-tour company in on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. This organization was affiliated with the Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui, but was based in Hanalei, on Kauai’s north coast. NaPali Eco Adventures took Kauai visitors on trips down the rugged north end of the island, the NaPali Coast.

This roadless part of Kauai has high cliffs, sea caves, waterfalls, and the remains of ancient Hawaiian villages. The turn-around point was Nu’alolo Kai, an ancient fishing village with an offshore reef alive with tropical fish.

On the way down the coast, the crew entertained guests with legends and myths about Na Pali. Fact blended easily with fiction, much of it seemingly invented by crew members on the spot. My job was to set the story straight, research and write a crew “tour manual” and then test the crew’s “NaPali Knowledge” on an actual trip down the NaPali coast

I spent countless hours at the library looking for information about the NaPali. I researched the myths and legends of Kauai, and while I was at it, created a guide to the flora, fauna and fishes of Kauai, for the crew to use on their tours. There were many times when the stories passed down over time and across oceans didn’t line up with hard evidence of a distant and distinct culture of Polynesian people–who had built tightly-fitted stone walls, fishponds and heiaus in a style unlike those built later by the Polynesian people discovered by the first European explorers. Legend said the structures were left by Menehune, a tiny, ugly but hardworking race of people, now seemingly lost in the mists of time. The archaeological evidence these people actually existed is still in place–some of it easily seen by visitors. However, no bones of a tiny race of people, who were said to number 500,000 at one tine, has ever been found.

The most important ‘myth’ with evidence was the story that the Menehune, “the little people” of Kauai, who supposedly hid in the forests during the day, and came out at night to build amazing structures that clearly took great time, and considerable skill and effort, to build, such as Menehune Fish Pond, and the Menehune Ditch.

In the late 1970s a National Geographic photojournalist, while researching a story on the island of Kauai, visited an elementary school. She asked the students if they had ever heard of the Menehune. Several replied that not only had they heard of the Menehune, they WERE Menehune.

These are the people we will attempt, through this website, to find.
This blog will have several parts:
1. A place to report research on the Menehune, to discover where scholars of Hawaiiana believe the menehune came from, where they lived, what they did, how (or if) they really disappeared, and where their existence was last recorded.
2. A place to share my ongoing research in a public forum, searchable by anyone.
3. A place to share photos of the Menehune people, the things they built, and the spaces they inhabited.
b. A place to share stories.
The goal is to use the information gathered on this site and through research to begin to build an authentic story of the Menehune told by those who remember them, saw them, or have heard first or second-hand stories about them.

This blog is open to anyone who is interested in the history of the Menehune people of Hawai’i, or has stories to tell about the Menehune. There is some evidence there are still Menehune somewhere on the Hawaiian Islands. in the early 19th century the census takers for King Kaumuali’i registered 65 people as Menehune living in Kaua’i’s Wainiha Valley. [Luoumala, Menehune of Polynesia, B.P. Museum Bulletin 203. Honolulu 1951: 12; quoted in Handy, Handy, and Pukau 1972: 405].

Over the next months, this blog will begin to take shape. Feel free to comment, share your own research, theories, artistic flights of Menehune fancy, as your interest, evidence, and spirit moves you.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Terrence Aym March 1, 2010 at 11:05 am

Tales of little people have been recorded throughout the ages in every culture, in every country around the globe. The most famous are the leprechauns of Great Britain. Yet little people – and the tales and myths about them – proliferate throughout the Ural Mountain Range in Russia, the Pyrenees between Spain and France, the forests of Germany and Austria, the hinterlands of sprawling northern China and the United States of America.

Many Americans are surprised to learn that the USA has its own brand of leprechaun. Nevertheless, it’s true.

Reports of a little race called the Menehune (pronounced men-ah-hoonie) can be traced back in the Hawaiian records many hundreds of years. Although the origins of these diminutive Polynesian folk have been a matter of considerable debate within Hawaiian researcher’s circles, most agree that one of the following three versions is the most likely:

Read more at:


Bayley March 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Hi. I live on O’ahu. I am very intrested in the menehune. So… I chose to do my hawaiian project on them. I was just wondering what specific places/things the menehune built. Feel free to email me with answers at agdolllover13@gmail.com

Sidnee Wheelwright March 4, 2010 at 10:46 am

Terrence – Thanks for your comments and your link. I will be adding much to nokamenehune in the very near future. Sidnee

Sidnee Wheelwright March 4, 2010 at 10:44 am

Hi Bayley – Thanks for your comment about the menehune. I’m finishing up a final presentation for a class tonight, but will respond to your question tomorrow evening after work. I hope that’s soon enough for your project. What class are you doing your project for? Sidnee.
My brothers live on Oahu, too.

Jim M. May 31, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Really decent post… I love it. Keep ‘em coming… :)

Caroline Loughridge November 7, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I know about the Menehune. I’ve written my own story about them which you can find on Divine Caroline.com. They have been following me around for 6 years or more now. They move where I move. They steel my stuff, like jewelry that is very valuable to me. They make things disappear and they move things around. They taunt me. I’ve had two different Kahunas bless my homes. The last person, an American Native Indian, blessed this place and they were gone for several months–God I felt so free and happy. But they soon returned and they are now taunting me with their return. They stold my medications. Everything. My friend is about to do another blessing and I am trying to find out the name of their chief. I don’t know why they are so attached to me. It’s been very traumatizing, to say the least. I’d appreciate any suggestions.

Michael H Anderson January 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

It’s unfortunate but inevitable that such a site would attract its share of what, to be as diplomatic as I know how, must be called “wackjobs”. Not Kanaka wackjobs of course – it’s always haoles with their Native American “healers” (cha-ching! good on ya for soaking the gullible and deserving wasicu!). Maybe try feng shui next time? Crystals perhaps?

So all that CRAP aside, I am really pleased to find this site. The menehune (please spare us your lousy Hawaiian pronunciation keys too please, Terrance) were real people, this it not about poltergeists or other paranoid delusions you suffer. Damn coattail-riding it’s-all-about-ME haoles…I’ll follow this site with interest.

The Leprechauns are the perfect analogy here. They too were real, the original Neolithic inhabitants of the British Isles who were either driven out, killed, or absorbed by the invading Celts, who then mythologized them as the “sidhe” (pronounced “shee”) or what the English called fairies. This is a recurrent theme in the history of preliterate conquering peoples – perhaps a way of dealing with subconscious guilt? Whatever the reason it was definitely a part of human nature.

Caroline Loughridge February 4, 2012 at 1:12 pm

In hopes that you weren’t referring to my response as delusional…I saw the menehunee, about 15 of them about 2 months ago in my living room about 4:30 in the morning. Their chief was sitting atop my lampost overseeing his “charges.” (He was a little bigger than the others.) Our eyes met and he winked at me. They were dark brown, 2 to 3 feet in height, one could have fit in the palm of my hand, so tiny they were. They were just hanging around having a party and after I gazed at them for several moments, they all disappeared at once. They have no hair, as I have read, and they wore no clothing. After that, things seemed fairly normal, except for a few missing items that were eventually found, but now, once again they are stealing my medication and I’m at wits end. I insist that this really did happened. I am not delusional. If you want to know about menehunes, I can tell you all about them. For awhile we left them poi to eat, coming to think of it, that was while things were more normal. It was obvious when some had been taken. There were dents in the bag. It doesn’t take much to fill them up. So, believe it or not, the choice is yours.

Sidnee Wheelwright February 4, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Caroline – Could you tell me exactly what the ‘menehune’ you saw looked like, other than their size, dark skin and no hair? What made you decide they were menehune and not something else (like leprechauns). Did they leave any evidence they had been there? Did they just vanish, or leave–like out a door or window? There is always a logical explanation for what we see, if we look closely enough at the details.

Caroline Loughridge February 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

After years of research and having things vanish, or stolen; my ex-husband found out from a friend of his that they were the little people. The menehune. Yes, they did just vanish in thin air, all of them at the same time–no doorway. One minute they were there, and then they were gone. There is no logical explanation for their attachment to me. They move where I move. All I can tell you is what I saw. They were not ugly, or scary looking. I did not freak out when I saw them as I knew immediately who they were. I froze a bit… I don’t know why they chose to let me see them. I’ve commanded them to leave many times. I had one CD left, of me playing my guitar. I went to retrieve it this morning, but they seem to have taken that as well. It’s nowhere to be found. I need for them to get out of my life. This is killing me.

Caroline Loughridge February 13, 2012 at 11:37 am

Note to above: they just looked like people.

Caroline Loughridge February 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I’ve realized that I’ve been chosen for a reason to see them, that they are in my life. There is something that I’m supposed to do for them. They are really a very loving bunch of little people; they are just very mischievious. They love to cause meyhem.

Lyndsey Burr March 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Hi guys! My name is Lyndsey Burr, and I’m a producer for Ping Pong Productions in Los Angeles. We’re currently doing research for a special on paranormal/cryptozoological activity in Hawaii… and couldn’t travel to this beautiful state without taking a look at the Menehune.

That said, Caroline, your sightings of these creatures is very intriguing. Would love to discuss in further detail, if you’re interested. Please feel free to contact me at lyndz23@gmail.com.

I’m also interested in any other sightings/info! thanks all!

Sarabjeet July 18, 2012 at 12:24 am

I just went to Hawaii for the first time. I spent a week in Maui and was supposed to go home, until my flight delayed a day and I ended up going to Kauai for two nights. I knew nothing about the Menehuenes prior to my experience. I had a stomach ache and spent the night sleeping on the floor. The sliding glass door was open. I saw a dad and about 4 kids running around. I thought they were leprechauns. The dad stopped and smiled at me. He was looking into my dreams and memories and reminded me when I was a kid that I was looking for Gizmo. He was as tall as my knee, thin, big nose, swirling colors in his eyes, and he had so much green covering him. They all had greens and the colors moved around. I think he had a beard too. the kids were half his height. They were running around in front of him and impatient that he stopped to look at me. I think he liked me.
When I woke up I had this knowing that these leprechauns were all over the island and that they ran around only at night. It was really cool and Ill never forget this experience.

Sidnee Wheelwright July 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Dear Sarabjeet –
Thanks for your post. Visiting Kauai can certainly bring out the supernatural dreamer in all of us, as it did in me many years ago. Although the menehune really lived in the islands of Hawaii, and stories about the mythical ‘little people’ of Kauai are many, they are now generally accepted by historians and archaeologists to be myth, passed down through the generations by the Hawaiians themselves.
If you are interested in some great stories about the supernatural side of the Menehune, you might enjoy reading Being Menehune: My Journal, by J. Arthur Rath III (2011).
According to the author’s website, menehunerath.com, “Being Menehune, My Journal, is a work of historical fiction about Hawaiian Menehune who, combined with their fairy counterparts from around the world, enrich the troubled life of Arthur, a sickly young boy growing up in Hawaii with the turmoil of World War II in the Pacific and personal struggles with race surrounding him.” In this novel, (Arthur) “watches Hawaii’s unfolding throughout history with Kahu, his Menehune mentor, Miki, a Leprechaun, who once was Shakespeare’s shadow, Per’fesser, an erudite American Indian Munchkin, Queen Esther of Ancient Persia, one of history’s most exotic women, Rising Sun and Ah Soong, Asian pixies, as well as Aiko, a beguiling Japanese girl who has become a Menehune.”
According to Rath’s online biography, he was born and raised Hawaiian, and drew his “perspectives on Menehune from readings by Mary Kawena Pukui, his mother’s childhood friend along with Bishop Museum associates Drs. Peter Buck and Kenneth Emory. He studied books by Dr. Martha Beckwith (of Mount Holyoke College and Vassar College) and Dr. Katharine Luomala (a student of Beckwith’s at Mount Holyoke).”
I enjoyed reading your post. I also enjoy reading and learning more and more about these historically elusive people, and hope you do too!

Sarabjeet July 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm

I find it unusual that I saw them without knowing about them prior to my visit. It was so real. I will check out the readings you suggested.
thank you

Sidnee Wheelwright July 19, 2012 at 12:18 am

Sarabjeet – Perhaps you will find something interesting in Arthur Rath’s website. He has a fairly long discussion about menehune stories: http://menehunerath.com/menehune.html. It is my opinion that it is the Hawaiians who delight in the menehune stories the most and perpetuate them (unless they are Menehune themselves).
I have read over your description of what you think you saw that night on Kauai; it is detailed and vivid, and very interesting. If you’re so inclined, could you draw what they looked like to you, and post it to this site? Check out the Menehune Image Gallery, where some of the many interpretations of the Menehune have been posted.
Thanks for your interest and for sharing your Kauai menehune story.

Sarabjeet July 20, 2012 at 11:29 am

I’m drawing a picture right now. It’s hard because I can’t get it exactly, but I’m doing my best. He looked about 60 years old, big smile, tall and thin, swirling eyes and swirling green camouflage leefy colors all around that blocked me from getting a full glimpse. He actually looked like an old jewish man. One of the drawings on your sight kinda resembled it, but none of the drawings have it exactly.

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