The following moʻolelo was told by Mary Kawena Pukui and published in the book titled, Tales of the Menehune – Help and be Helped.
This moʻolelo perpetuates the Hawaiian proverb, “kōkua aku, kōkua mai” (help and be helped.) In addition, it also brings attention to the importance of maintaining the resources of both land and sea. This moʻolelo is given below.
“Keoha, a canoe-maker of Hilo, had come to Puna. The trail was long, the day hot, and now Keoha stood looking longingly at a bunch of coconuts in a treetop.”
“‘Aloha, stranger! What are you looking at?’ A fisherman had stopped beside Keoha.”
“‘Those coconuts. Their cool milk would moisten my dry throat, and the meat of a tender young nut would taste very good.’”
“‘Come with me,’ the Puna fisherman invited. “’I have many coconuts and shall give you all you want. Come to my home.’”
“Keoha went gladly. The walk was long, but the Hilo man thought eagerly of the good food and drink that he could find. He hurried.”
“At last the fisherman stopped beside tall coco palms. ‘There are coconuts, stranger,’ he said smiling. ‘Help yourself.’”
“There they were indeed! High in the treetops! Years ago Keoha could have climbed one of those coco palms, but not now. ‘Thank you. I am no longer thirsty,’ he answered as he walked away.”
“A little later as he passed a group of houses the canoe-maker was called in. Boys climbed trees for coconuts, and Keoha and his hosts ate tender young nuts and drank cool milk. The stranger was refreshed and very grateful. These men became his friends.”
“The canoe-maker, however, did not forget the fisherman. ‘Someday I shall repay his kindness,’ he told himself.”
“Years later his chance came. The Puna man walked into the shed where Keoha was polishing a canoe. ‘My small fishing canoe was injured in a storm,’ he said. ‘I need another. Have you one?’”
“Keoha looked around. ‘Not here. These are all promised,’ he answered, speaking truly. ‘But there is one in the forest. Meet me early tomorrow, and I shall show you.’”
“Carrying food and water the two took the trail. The day grew hot, but they climbed on for the fisherman was eager to see his new canoe. “
“At last they reached the part of the forest where tall koa trees grew – the strong trees whose trunks can stand the beat of waves and scratch of pebbles.”
“Keoha looked from one to another of the great trees as he said, ‘Here are many canoes. Help yourself.’”