The summit of Haleakalā is a wahi pana - a legendary place. Many of the legends associated with Haleakalā center around the demi-god Maui. It was Maui who pulled up the island chain we call Hawai`i with his skillfully made fishhook and line. It is here on the summit of Haleakalā that Maui snared the sun, in order to slow its passage through the sky, so that his mother could dry her kapa (bark cloth).
Although never a place of permanent habitation Hawaiians journeyed to the summit of Haleakalā for a variety of reasons. Some came to honor the gods, or to say farewell to the deceased. Some came to hunt birds for feathers or for food. Others quarried the fine-grained basalt rock to create stone adzes (a type of axe) and for other tools. All who ventured to the summit of Haleakalā considered it to be a sacred place. For Native Hawaiians past and present it was, and still is, wao akua - the wilderness of the gods.