Menehune Hale launched in 2014 by Tim Waggener. Tim was born and raised on Oahu, and he imagined Menehune actually living behind his house.
"Growing up on Mariner's Ridge in Hawaii Kai, I remember my big sister asking me, "Did you see the Menehune last night?" I didn't see anything, but at eight years old I was instantly intrigued by this matter-of-fact inquiry. Our backyard led down to Hahaione Valley, where I knew the Menehune lived.
"They were peeking through my window, and probably yours, too!" She liked to play with me, but before I could get too concerned about their intentions she reassured me, "Don't worry, they are friendly and happy. They were probably just going to work, building a heiau or something."
"From then on, when the sun went down I always kept an eye out for Menehune, but never found any. I loved the idea of a hidden world just beyond the reach of human knowledge. There is something exciting about fantasy beyond the mundaneness of life's routines."
Twenty years later, Tim was working to provide overseas educational travel experiences for Hawaii's students. He wanted to make it possible for any child in Hawaii to see the world regardless of their financial situation. So he created the Original Menehune Statue as a fundraising tool to give private, public and charter school students a means to join their classmates to see the world. They shared their statues with ohana and neighbors to raise money for their trips. Small pockets of communities across the state came to know that if you saw a Menehune Statue in someone's front yard, they were supporting the cause.
"I decided to bring to life something everyone in Hawaii knew about growing up, that could put a smile on their face. Menehune work together to accomplish amazing things no one would ever deem possible for "little people." In this way, they could work together to help a child with seemingly no chance to travel visit the Great Wall, Machu Picchu, the Louvre, and other great places to expand their understanding of the world. These early days of working together to support travel drove our mission to Spread Aloha Around the World."
Soon it became apparent that there was high demand for the little man, so Tim created a website and social media accounts to reach more people.
"I rarely used a computer outside of work, never created a website, and certainly hadn't started a business, so it was quite a challenge to learn and implement everything. It's incredible how much time and effort it takes to create a webpage or prepare a post product to the site. Then there's updating social media with interesting content and fulfilling orders. I couldn't believe how much work was involved in owning my own business!"
In April 2017, Tim took the leap from a regular paycheck to full-time business owner. He upgraded the website, branded Menehune Hale with a new logo and apparel designs, and brought the statues to local shops including Kailua General Store, Rainbow Drive-In, and Homegrown.
"It was like going past the point of return paddling into a big wave for the first time. You might be a little freaked out, but you know you have to go all in. It is fun and stressful at the same time. There is plenty to work though, so I can keep busy and work through it.
"I have had so much help along the way. People get as excited as I am about the Menehune and our mission. One of my favorite things is having people share their menehune in his new home or out and about on one of our social media accounts. It feels like they've added the Menehune to their ohana. It's a great feeling to know we really are sharing aloha with them and those around them."
Next up for Menehune Hale is producing new, smaller statues, a wahine, and adding new designs for apparel and stickers including the Favorite Beach series.
"In the long term we'd love to make menehune iconic souvenirs of Hawaii, with stories and fun iterations that connect with everyone we can. But my vision goes beyond that to being able to promote outdoor activities, and bringing people together to make Hawaii and the world a better place. Menehune are known to work together, and if we follow their lead we can take on local causes by pulling efforts and resources and doing big things."
Friends of Menehune Hale:
- Stephen Parker, Owner of Kailua General Store
- Jim Gusukama, Owner of Rainbow Drive-In
- (Hanai) Uncle Clay, Owner of Uncle Clays House of Pure Aloha
- Nori Sakamoto, Owner of Pioneer Saloon
- Brooke Watson, Owner of Soha Living
- Aly Ishikuni-Sasaki, Co-Founder of Art+Flea
- Ty Johnston, Owner of Hello Digital
- Donna Festa, Owner of Lanikai General Store
- Christian Zehetner, Owner of Triple Vertex Studio
- Tony Sedillo, Founder of Venture Hawaii
- Jerald & Ku'ulei, Owners of Homegrown Hawaiian