When Rex Stevenson saw his hives collecting manuka honey in Northland from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s he always left it for the bees. The manuka honey was a low value, difficult to harvest honey with a unique taste. How times have changed. While manuka honey may have been regarded as junk its medicinal properties are now widely acknowledged and manuka honey is a highly prized and sought-after honey.
It is widely accepted that the Maori people of New Zealand used manuka honey on skin wounds and infections. It was also known that some people, typically more “earthy” people also used honey and manuka honey in the same way. But it was not until Dr Peter Moran of the University of Waikato undertook …testing that science was able to support what others had known all along. And with the credibility of scientific evidence behind it manuka honey grew a life of its own as a health product, not just in New Zealand but around the world.
Today there is an entire industry dedicated to the production, harvesting and sale of manuka honey. The manuka honey industry in New Zealand continues to grow from strength to strength, which is not to say that there are not issues that arise from that growth.
A key current issue is the resolution by the MPI of the ??? manuka standard which will result in the consistent assessment of what constitutes manuka honey and the quality of the manuka honey. Another issue is with manuka trees being a scarce resource this has resulted in beekeepers competing to gain a manuka crop from the same resource – with overcrowding resulting and none of the beekeepers being able to get a manuka crop at all.