From the highest peak of Pu‘u Kukui to the shoreline of Kahului Bay, the ahupua‘a (land division) of Wailuku was a favorite place of Ali‘i and a ruling center of Maui. ‘Īao Valley is part of the ahupua‘a. For centuries, high chiefs and navigators from across the archipelago were buried in secret, difficult-to-access sites in the valley’s steep walls.
During Kamehameha’s conquest to take over the Islands, in 1790, he travelled to Maui. The ensuing battle (“Kepaniwai” (the damming of the waters)) started in Wailuku and then headed up ‘l̄ao Valley – Kamehameha’s superiority in the number and use of the newly acquired weapons and canon finally won the decisive battle at ‘Īao Valley.