The name I’ao is very sacred. The first part, I, means cosmic spirit. The second part, ao, means primordial light. According to Leinani Melville (Children of the Rainbow, 1969, p. 20, 116), I’ao is the name for the Eternal Creator, the Primordial Lord of the Sun, the Primary Cosmic Force, the Supreme Being. It means Infinite World, Infinite Light, the Supreme Light of the World. I’ao Valley was named after this supreme deity.
The people of Maui paid respects to the Creator at the peak in the valley which we call the I’ao Valley. This valley lies in the watershed area of West Maui, Mauna Kahalawai.
The Hawaiian name for the West Maui Mountains is ‘Kahalawai’ meaning House of Water. They are also known as “Hale Mahina” meaning House of the Moon, after Hina, a lunar goddess. West Maui is home to many important historical and sacred sites in Hawaiian culture. http://www.westmauiwatershed.org/explore/hawaiian-culture/historical-sites
The morning we went to I’ao it was bright and sunny in Wailuku, and it grew progressively darker and more solemn as we drove deeper into the valley. It was sprinkling by the time we parked and started walking the paved trail through the park. Warned to stay on the trail, we crossed over rapid streams as we wound our way up to the little pavilion. From there we had a clear view of the Needle, at least as clearas the weather permitted. We sat for a long while in the pavilion as visitors came and went. It was a powerful spot for meditation.
We started downhill and walked slowly through the shower. The path took us along another stream, and as we sheltered under the trees we watched the eddies over and around the rocks. So fascinating that time stood still.