With 9000 hectares of hard to access, steep bush-clad land, the Tuhoe Tuawhenua Trust looked to the skies to farm their property. Starting with just 50 beehives, the Trust sought to create careers for the community and in 2013 launched Manawa Honey NZ.
What is your company background, how did you start the business? Who are the owners?
“Manawa Honey NZ was founded by the Tuhoe Tuawhenua Trust, which holds 9000 ha of land near Ruatāhuna. Our land is difficult to utilise as it is inaccessible, steep and bush-clad. We built our honey business as a way of aerially farming the area, in order to create jobs and meaningful careers for our people. We wanted to put health-giving honey back into the homes of our community, and to keep bees for the benefits they bring to our forests, farms and homes.”
“The beekeeping operation started from 50 hives in 2011, with the Manawa brand launching in 2013. Manawa means ‘heart’, and our brand is inspired by Ruatahuna lying at the Heart of the Fish – Te Manawa o te Ika – the North Island.”
What is the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“We specialise in producing native forest tree honeys - mānuka, rewarewa and tāwari - produced mainly from the vast untouched forests of our homeland Te Urewera and environs."
"We are told we stand out against the pack as we are the only producer focusing on native forest tree honeys, especially from this region. Our innovative branding and packaging means that we are the only honey producer with a boutique gift-pack in supermarkets. And we are proud to be the only Maori-owned and operated business whose honey is widely-distributed throughout New Zealand.”
“Our current product range includes:
Mānuka MG100+ Honey (in 110g, 250g, and 500g jars): An amber honey with complex and earthy undertones. Our ancestors used the mānuka tree for a variety of medicinal purposes, and manuka honey has now become world-famous because of this. Our mānuka honey is lighter to the palate than most so suits different tastes.
Rewarewa Honey (in 110g, 250g and 500g jars): Rewarewa honey has a beautiful deep reddish amber colour and a rich, full-bodied taste. Research has found that Rewarewa Honey has a range of properties from antibacterial and anti-oxidant to anti-inflammatory assets.
Tāwari Honey (in 110g, 250g, 500g jars and 5g snap-packs): This light honey has a stunning taste, often with a hint of butterscotch. Tawari honey is rare, but we can harvest it from the vast groves of tāwari found deep within the forests of Te Urewera. Our ancestors used its delicate white flowers as beautifying garlands, but today our bees work the generous nectar of these flowers to produce one of the finest honeys of New Zealand.
Honeys of Te Urewera gift packs (3x110g and 2x250g). We showcase our range of honey in different combinations: our 3x110g gift packs come as a range of Mānuka MG100+, Tāwari and Rewarewa or as all Mānuka MG100+, while our 2x250g giftpacks come as Mānuka MG100+ and Tāwari, or both Mānuka MG100+.
We also produce pails of honey in different sizes for our online customers and for foodservice.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“We recently launched our new user-friendly website this July and are particularly proud of our efforts in the last year to make contributions to our community. Our business has meant an injection of jobs into the local area. Each year we also gift honey to all homes and the marae in our district as well as to our local kapa haka groups, and on special occasions.
We host workshops on bees and honey for local schoolchildren to engender understanding of bees roles in the world’s food production and natural ecosystems. We also sponsor positive programmes in Ruatahuna for our youth, including a hunting competition and a forest knowledge development programme.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“We are planning to expand the range of forest tree honeys under the Manawa brand over time, as well as develop some other related products. So be sure to watch this space.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
“Our products are currently being sold in most Countdowns across the country; a number of selected New Worlds, and in a range of other stockists mainly in the tourist and gift sector. We also have our recently launched online store. We hope to present our honey in more stockists, particularly in the FMCG sector, and to supply the food trade.”
For more information head to our new website www.manawahoney.co.nz or phone 07 3663 166.