Menehune Ditch Kauai

Historical Landmark Claims Dwarfs Built Ancient Watercourse on Kauai

There’s a historical landmark (tablet) in the town of Waimea, Kauai, issued by the Superintendent of Public Works in 1928, that states “Hawaiian Dwarfs or Brownies” built an ancient watercourse known as the Menehune Ditch. That’s right, ancient dwarfs built a walled watercourse on Kauai, according to a top Kauai official and official historical landmark. The watercourse features advanced stonework not found elsewhere in Hawaii.

The Hawaiian Dwarfs (or Brownies) are the Menehune, a mythical race of industrious “little people” who lived deep in the valleys of Kauai. Some historians believe the Menehune were Marquesans from the Marquesas Islands who arrived around 200-600 AD. In about 1200 AD, the first Tahitians arrived. The Tahitians were taller and more powerful than the short Marquesans, prompting the Marquesans to flee deeper into the valleys to avoid conflict, according to some scholars.

About 120 closely-fitted stones of the wall, the irrigation ditch and a tunnel can still be seen along Menehune Road in Waimea. The ditch still carries water to the taro fields of Waimea. When it was first discovered by Westerners in the late 1700s, the watercourse was described as being 24-feet high and a mile long with a pathway on top. A road built in the 1800s next to the watercourse partially buried the wall and many stones were taken to be used in early Waimea construction.

Whether the people who built the watercourse were small in stature, or small in social standing as some scholars argue, it’s evident that an unknown pre-Tahitian society, highly skilled in stonework, built the channel. An 1820s census of Wainiha, on the opposite side of the island from the ditch, listed 65 people who identified as Menehune. According to local residents, there are families on Kauai who are known to be of Menehune descent. With the recent advances of DNA testing, it would be very interesting to see if there is a type of DNA present on Kauai that is different from the DNA brought by the Tahitians. Identifying this different type of DNA would go a long way in solving the mystery of the Menehune Ditch and the people who built the ditch.

The Menehune Fishpond near Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai is also attributed to the Menehune.

Location at Google Maps (Listed as the Peekauai Ditch. The ditch is also known as Kiki a Ola. The Google Maps link does not provide the exact spot of the ditch. The ditch is located on the left side of Menehune Road just before the Waimea Swinging Bridge.)

Menehune Ditch Photos

Menehune Ditch

Menehune Ditch

Menehune Ditch


Menehune Ditch

Menehune Ditch

Menehune Ditch


Beach footprints

Hanalei Beach

Hanapepe Art Night Reopening

Hanapepe Art Night