By Kuni Agard
Culture and business – the two can be partners in a way that is authentic, lucrative and pono. Nānā i ke kumu (look to the source)! From the inception of man, as told in the Kumulipo, kānaka maoli have relied on the experience of their kūpuna to guide them with ancient knowledge that has been dutifully passed down over generations.
One of the stewards of this ʻike kūpuna is the Prince Kūhiō Hawaiian Civic Club (PKHCC), who was gifted an ancient Hawaiian moon calendar by long-time member and patron Barbara “Bobbee” Mills-Diaz, who sadly passed away on May 8, 2020.
During a visit to her Punaluʻu home by fisherman and family friend, Jimmy Puʻuohao of Keaukaha, Mills-Diaz inquired about the exasperation he had regarding the condition of the water that day saying it was, “ʻole days.” When she was told there would be nothing from the ocean on ʻole days, she fixated on that and thus began her deep dive into all the material she could get her hands on about what ʻole meant and how it was significant to the moon calendar. In the early 60s, after extensive research and assistance by Spencer Tinkerer of the Waikīkī Aquarium over a two year period, the first moon calendar was printed by Edward Enterprises, the same vendor that prints it today.
Mills-Diaz presented PKHCC with the moon calendar as a means to raise funds for preschool scholarships, selling them for $1.50 each; the calendar has gained renown since that time and is featured in many book stores and fishing shops, and can be seen adorning the walls of many offices all around Hawaiʻi – updated each year. Currently, PKHCC sells the Ancient Hawaiian Moon Calendar to support club activities and to fund scholarships for those who have opted for advanced degrees with a commitment to join and grow the outreach of the organization.
Honoring the legacy of Aunty Bobbee Mills-Diaz, Kalei Nuʻuhiwa has painstakingly updated the calendar every year since 2005. In 2018, moon calendar committee chairs Charmain and Bruce Wong traveled to the University of Hawaiʻi Maui Campus to present a video featuring Mills-Diaz discussing the creation of her Kaulana Mahina (Hawaiian Lunar Calendar) at the ʻAimalama: A Mauliauhonua Experience Conference on Hawaiian moon calendars. The Prince Kūhiō Hawaiian Civic Club scholarship program, started by PKHCC founder Liliʻuokalani Kawānanakoa Morris, has raised thousands of dollars in scholarships since it was established. We have come full circle as this ancestral awareness of Earth’s moon still guides the fishing and farming activities of modern-day Hawaiians and helps to fund the higher education for ʻōiwi leaders of tomorrow. Mahalo nui Aunty Bobbee!
Watch a video of Bobbee Mills-Diaz at: pkhcc.org/mooncalendar
Kuni Agard is the grandson of Buzzy Agard. He is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and an entrepreneur focused on technology and health.