Maori look to invest in manuka honey

Maori look to invest in manuka honey

Manuka Farming New Zealand’s commercial manager Stephen Lee.

Maori could be key players in the manuka honey industry in coming years.

At a honey farming workshop at Fieldays, Manuka Farming New Zealand’s commercial manager Stephen Lee said Maori land might be crucial to the growth of the industry because they owned a lot of the mountainous land suitable for manuka development.

“The East Coast especially is prime area for Maori. The have a substantial amount of usable land up there.

“In terms of profit, the return on manuka is less than dairy but it is more than sheep and beef. Often the land that might be used for manuka cannot be used for dairy so often the farmers are getting nothing off that land.”

Lee said that applied particularly to land which was too steep for livestock such as the land held by Ohinepoutea B Trust.

Ohinepoutea representative Luke Donnelly said the potential for Maori to use unworkable land was too good to resist.

“We’ve got 5000 hectares with two rivers on either side and run-off is a major issue.

“We are here to take advantage of the funding opportunities provided through Manuka Farming New Zealand and MPI,” he said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has invested in the High Performance Manuka Plantations Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, which aims to improve the yield and reliability of supply of medical-grade manuka honey.

“This is a solution to our problem of run off, but also a huge opportunity to make profit off the sale of manuka,” said Donnelly.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy said the Government full supported of such initiatives.

“The Government is stepping in and saying ‘how can we help?’ A lot of the funding proposals do involve iwi. There’s initiatives where we are working with iwi collectives in the Bay of Plenty.”

Guy acknowledged manuka as one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing exports.

“The exports from manuka honey are worth about $280 million a year. That is significant.”

According to Manuka Farming New Zealand, manuka exports have risen by an average of 23 percent per year for the last 10 years.

The manuka industry is expected to grow to$1.2 billion by 2028.

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Article by Dane Ambler

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