Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 11, 2017

Menehune and Bigfoot: Fact, Fiction, and Genealogy

According to the information that has been passed down from my mother and my aunt and to myself, the Menehune or ‘Manahune’ as they were referred to, were believed to be the first people who were already occupants of our archipelago before the mass migration from the South Pacific.  The description of such a people being squat and ugly is hardly realistic, and the Menehune were not and are not "little people" as we see in the movies but entirely proportionate humans of smaller stature who are only three or four feet in height.

In some circles, it is said
that these first people were the survivors of the Pacific landmass, once known as Lemuria, and they were known as the ‘Mu’ people. When the Tahitians arrived, they were taller than the people they found here and thus called them “Manahune” or people of little or lesser power. In 1951 Katherine Luomala, a historian from Minnesota refutes the idea that Hawaii was occupied before the arrival of anyone else. Still, if Luomala were thinking in terms of supernatural beings, she may have been incorrect.

The people of Molokai present an equally convincing account of their genealogical origins that relates their own history of not only being the first Hawaiians here but also of their encounters with the first invading fleet of Tahitians. Many who survived fled to the mountains and would only return during the deep dark hours of the night.

Near the beginning of the 19th century, a census was taken of the remaining population of the island of Kauai, and the results yielded a family of Menehune still living in Wainiha Valley, totaling 65 in all. Whatever their purpose may have been, their legend grew as the Menehune. Their tasks are legendary, creating great architectural feats overnight, such as the building of the Kikiaola, the Menehune irrigation ditch, or Alekoko, the fishpond on Kaua'i.  Other structures of their making throughout Hawai'i are clear evidence of their skills.

Today, there are remnants of fishing villages that were once a place where the occupants fed the Menehune. Their descendants continue the legacy of feeding the Menehune, but that task and that secret are only known to them. There are still trails that exist today, which are known paths where the Menehune still process on particular nights per the Hawaiian lunar calendar.

Where the idea comes from regarding a ‘Bigfoot’ in our islands is curious. There is a confusing legend regarding Ai-kanaka or the man-eating chief who was described as a man who was much more covered with hair on his body than normal Hawaiians. It could be attributed to the fact that ‘Ai-kanaka and his clan were foreigners who arrived here by way of Papua New Guinea. There is also the story of Kamapua'a, the pig god who is half man, half pig. He is still seen these days as someone who is hairy and who wears what people think is a black-feathered cape but later notice that there are large bristles on his back, much like the hackles of a wild boar. Perhaps this is where the confusion comes from.

Perhaps these are the ancient specters that amateur creature hunters from abroad, misinterpret as being a ‘Bigfoot.’ There are stories of ape-like creatures in Asian countries who have been sighted within the last forty to fifty years but for a chain of islands in the Pacific having the capacity to accommodate a population of large hairy ape-man creatures? I don’t think so for, as dense as our population has become, we would have weeded them out well before the time of any significant development.

However, if one is asking from the perspective of a reality show? Sure, saying we have a race of Bigfoot creatures along with the Hawaiian version of the little people here in Hawai'i makes for good reality TV. But is it true?

Well, is it?

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Ua ho‘omaka ku‘u mo‘olelo i Hawai‘i
My story begins in Hawai‘i

Hawaii's history is passed from generation to generation through mo'olelo, storytelling. Everyone has a story, where does yours begin?

In this shameless plug, I encourage you to check out this t-shirt designed by my wife, Tanya. It makes an awesome gift, especially for our family and friends who are living far away from our beautiful island home.

Order yours HERE

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