Why it might interest gardeners is the stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture that was keen on protecting the bond between the land and its people. The term for their particular sustainability is Mãlama ‘āina – caring for the land. These words are very strong to the Kanaka Maoli people who practice their values every day in their fishing, farming, and gathering practices.
Since there is a great amount of mainland influence and tourism, Hawai`i imports approximately three-quarters of its food, and over ninety percent of its energy. This is contrary to the values of many native Hawaiians. In fact, there is a growing resistance to the loss of farms on the islands to commercial development. It does seem they are changing things for the better.
The islands are making great strides in becoming more independent in keeping with the sustainable practice of Mãlama ‘āina. As Hawai`i actually becomes more sustainable, foreign and mainland tourists will carry back the Hawaiian vision for their own communities.
The Park cares for endangered species of plant and animal in this sub-tropical rain forest. Don’t let it fool you into thinking there is an abundance of either though. A limited number of plants, birds and insects call this area home. We were restricted from some trails because we were with a commercial tour group of eight. They do not let tour groups of any size navigate the trails to protect the native plant life.
Seed must be removed from hiking boots, rain gear and clothing so as not to introduce foreign species. As gardeners know, the greatest threat to native plant life is the introduction of alien species. Some of these endangered species exist nowhere else on the planet.
The Park officials don’t even allow the stacking of rocks in the area and deem it artificial imitation of ahu piles. Rich mineral deposits create deep, beautiful colors.
Literally, the Park is not for the faint of heart because an ambulance will take at least 45 minutes to arrive from the nearest town. People with respiratory or heart conditions must be aware that the summit of Haleakalā is at 10,023 ft. I did know this before my trip and luckily had no issues myself. I climbed and was all over the peak, unlike others in my group.
When I booked my flight to Maui I had some idea what to see being in Maui last year. I wanted to make sure and do a few things I had not experienced in 2014. My friend Barbara suggested a sunrise tour at the Haleakalā crater. We made inquiries about tours and realized none of them are cheap. We had a rented car, but decided not to drive up ourselves. A downfall to a tour is that besides the sunrise, there is many other things to do at Haleakalā National Park where one could spend a full day. After all, driving time to the summit from our resort in Kā’anapali takes two hours.
We did not want to risk a rainy, cloud covered peak for sunrise, and went later in the morning. To see sunrise, visitors must leave for the summit between 2 and 3am. Driving at night would be rather unpredictable so taking a tour is most safe. There are quite a few road hazards of concern on the route to the park, including steep turns, falling rocks, fog, slippery conditions from rain, not to mention the bicycles and large buses. You might even encounter cattle.
According to legend, in the basin at the mountain’s summit, the demigod Maui snared the sun, releasing it only after the sun promised to move more slowly across the sky. Maui did this at the request of his mother, Hina. His father was ‘Akalana. Haleakalā means “house of the sun”. That is the image depicted on the sign in the above gallery.