The Menehune are the wee people of the Hawaiian Islands; and just as there are folk legends and beliefs that the fairies of the British Isles were originally an early diminutive people, so do some traditions in Polynesia maintain that the Menehunes were an ancestral pygmy race that averaged about two feet in height. The Menehune were said to be superb craftspeople. Legends say that the Menehune built temples (heiau), fishponds, roads, canoes, and houses. They are said to have lived in Hawaiʻi before settlers arrived from Polynesia many centuries ago. There are ancient sites in the Hawaiian Islands that some inhabitants still believe are the ruins of temples built by the Menehunes. For most Polynesians, however, the prevailing accounts of the Menehune are told as if the beings have always been members of a spirit race that coexists with humans.

The Menehune often serve as guardians and guides for the people, and the help of the “little vanishing ones” is sought in all tasks, from erecting a home to building a canoe. Much like the old European traditions of setting out food for the elves to come at night and assist the farmer or shoemaker, workers in Hawaii will sometimes set out sweets to insure the cooperation of the Menehune in the completion for their work project. The Menehune are highly regarded as engineers, and very often construction workers in Hawaii will ask a traditional priest, a Kahuna, to ask the blessing of the Menehune before any major building has begun. To neglect to do so may bring dire consequences if the work has been scheduled on a site that the Menehune regard as sacred. In this case, the Kahuna must offer prayers and gifts to pacify the spirit beings and win their cooperation.

Folklorist Katherine Luomala believes that the legends of the Menehune are a post-European contact mythology created by adaptation of the term manahune (which by the time of the settling of the Hawaiian Islands had acquired a meaning of "lowly people") to European legends of brownies.

From time to time, native inhabitants and tourists to the islands claim to caught a glimpse of the Menehune as they scurry from bush to bush in the forested regions. Most people describe the little people with light or slightly reddish-colored skin and large fuzzy mops of hair.

Sources :
The Gale Encyclopedia of Unusual and Unexplained Vol. 3 by Brad Steiger & Sherry Hansen Steiger;

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