Waimea River as seen from the Swinging Bridge. Photo from gohawaii,about.com.
Waimea River as seen from the Swinging Bridge. Photo from gohawaii,about.com.

Today’s story comes from Hawaii. “Pi’s Watercourse” is one of the tales of the Menehunes. The Menehunes are said to be a people, sometimes described as small in size, who live in the deep forests and hidden valleys of the Hawaiian Islands, far from the eyes of normal humans. Their favorite food is bananas, but they also like fish. They were superb craftspeople. Legends say that the Menehune built temples, fishponds, roads, canoes, and houses. They are said to have lived in Hawaii before settlers arrived from Polynesia.

Pi was an ordinary man living in Waimea, Kauai, who wanted to build a dam across the Waimea River and a watercourse from there to a point near Kikiaola. When he picked the best lace for it, he went up to the mountains and ordered all the Menehunes that were living near Puukapele to prepare stones for the dam and stream. The Menehunes were divided, some to gather stones and others to cut them. All the material was ready in no time and Pi settled upon the night when the work was to be done. That evening he came to the river and waited. At the dead of night he heard the noise and hum of the voices of the Menehunes on their way to Kikiaola, each of whom was carrying a stone. The dam was constructed, every stone fitting in its proper place, and the stone streambed also laid. Before dawn, all the work was completed, and the water of the Waimea River was turned by the dam into the watercourse on the flat lands of Waimea.

When the work was finished Pi served shrimp to the Menehunes.  They were satisfied, and at dawn returned to the mountains of Puukapele rejoicing, “and the hum of their voices gave rise to the saying, ‘Wawa ka Menehune i Puukapele, ma Kauai, puoho ka manu o ka loko o Kawainui ma Koolaupoko, Oahu’–the hum of the voices of the Menehunes at Puukapele, Kauai, startled the birds of the pond of Kawainui, at Koolaupoko, Oahu.”

The watercourse of Pi is still to be seen at Kikiaola.

At one time Pi also told the Menehunes to wall in a fish-pond at the bend of the Huleia River. They began work toward midnight, but at dawn the walls of the pond did not meet, so it was left incomplete, and has remained so to this day.

I’m not quite sure about the Menehunes. They seem more than willing to work for Pi, but I bet if you get on their wrong side they can cause mischief. This story comes from Hawaiian Folk Tales collected by Thomas G. Thrum, 1907. I read it at SacredTexts.com.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

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