Are there Elves in Hawaii?

Although Hawaii might not be home to Santa’s elves, it is home to our very own mischievous, elfish like characters also known as Menehunes. Europe isn’t the only place with legends and stories of elves and dwarfs, such as the Leprechauns of Ireland. Hawaii’s rich culture is full of legends and myths, but none are as widespread as the myths surrounding the Menehunes.
Menehunes, similar to pixies or trolls, are characterized as short dwarfish type people who are both mischievous and master builders. Legends say that they are responsible for building fish ponds, temples, roads and walls. However, they only work at night so as not to be seen. If spotted, the Menehunes would abandon their work and disappear into the mountains. Even today the work of the Menehunes can be spotted from our Tour 16B: Hidden Waterfall Guided Eco Hike. While on the trail you will actually walk on top of a handmade, lava rock, cobblestone road that was once used as the original route from one side of the island to the other. Legends are still told of how the Menehunes built part of this road as well as other walls and temples within the area.
However, many scholars believe that the Menehunes are not mythical but are in fact the first settlers to Hawaii from the Marquesas Islands. In Tahitian, a similar word Manahune, or commoner, refers to a race of people who were small in social rather than physical stature. Historically, the Tahitians were the second wave of explorers to Hawaii and invaded the islands. This invasion may have caused the original inhabitants to flee into the mountains only to re-appear at night when they secretly searched for food and supplies. Although Menehunes are considered to be mythical creatures, an 1820s census officially counted 65 Menehunes living in Wainiha Valley on the island of Kauai. While Santa’s elves are busy finishing up toys for the upcoming Christmas holiday, our Hawaiian “elves” or Menehunes stay busy on the islands mischievously running around. So next time you can’t find your missing belongings be warned, a Menehune may be hiding right around the corner.

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