Mānuka honey is fast becoming one of New Zealand's most recognisable and valued exports. Ecologist Louise Saunders has written a comprehensive guide for those considering mānuka or kānuka plantations.
Mānuka and kānuka have been used for practical and medicinal purposes since people arrived in New Zealand. For instance, Māori used the wood for tools, weapons and building, and bark for water containers, water proofing and dye.
Freshwater crayfish (kōura) were captured using seedlings and branches. Explorers and early settlers used mānuka to brew tea and beer. Extracts of mānuka and kānuka were also well known as an intestinal worming medicine and as an antibacterial poultice.
These historic and cultural uses led to research into the bioactive compounds present in the oil and honey from these species. Mānuka has a bioactive compound that produces the Unique Mānuka Factor (UMF®), which supports the valuable mānuka honey industry and the development of health support, medicinal, nutraceutical and cosmetic products.
There is strong interest in growing mānuka to diversify or supplement farm income from honey production. Honey revenues can be supplemented with carbon credit income and plantations may also provide important environmental and biodiversity benefits.
However, growing mānuka to produce honey is not as simple as it might seem. If the plantation lacks the right terrain, weather conditions, and size, it could fail to produce any honey at all. Plantations also need hive sites that support healthy bees, and other factors such as access and hive diseases play a role. Both mānuka and kānuka produce high quality essential oils, but there has been very little research into their commercial value. Although this industry remains largely undeveloped, the Government is exploring its potential through Provincial Growth Fund projects.
Converting land into mānuka or kānuka plantations requires careful design to achieve the desired outcome. Each site will have unique characteristics that require a tailored management regime… one size does not fit all. Like all farming enterprises, landowners need a plan to select the most appropriate plantation management methods to reach their desired outcomes. The Mānuka and Kānuka Plantation Guide provides objective, market-verified information on factors affecting plantation yield, and likely costs and potential revenue, to help landowners build a business case and move towards decision making.
For further information please contact Louise Saunders
1 May 2019