Alekoko: Legend of the Menehune Fishpond

From "Alekoko: Legend of the Menehune Fishpond" in More Kaua‘i Tales by Wichman, Frederick.

Retold here by Kiana


Imagine being a chief, thousands of years ago, on the island of Kaua‘i, and watching the Menehune who were just in the process of building your fishpond, stopping to wash their bloody hands in the once clear water, all because you broke your promise. Imagine seeing the morning light of dawn brighten the blood- red water that was caused by you. You are a chief! You aren’t supposed to break your promise at all, and now, look what you have done. You promised the slaving Menehune that you would not look at their work in progress, but you looked anyway. You have disgraced your name as a chief, and for that, you are rewarded with a new name. Your name will now be ‘Alekoko, which means the bloody-ripple. This is to remind you of your broken promise, of your uncompleted fishpond, and of the people you have disgraced.

Now, let me ask you this, if you were a chief and wanted to build a fishpond so that you could farm fish to feed your village, would you ask for help? What if you found some people that were willing to build a fishpond for you, just as long as you did what they asked of you? I would imagine that you would do everything they asked of you. You agree to their task of giving them some fish. They also ask that you not disturb their building process and not lay an eye on their work in progress. You agree to this as well. You wait all night and half the day inside your home, waiting excitedly for the completion of your grand fishpond. But, curiosity finally gets the best of you. You look out and see them building. You have betrayed them and now, they will just leave.