Manuka Honey is produced by Honey Bees collecting nectar and pollen from Leptospermum scoparium which is commonly known as Black Teatree, Manuka or simply just Tea Tree.
There is no doubt the honey contains beneficial anti-oxidants more than any other known honeys.
NZ apiarists are claiming exclusive rights to using the term Manuka Honey which would prevent Australian Apiarists from using that name. While it is true that Manuka is a Māori, word but the plant evolved in Australia and is found in Vic, NSW, Tas and NZ.
Locally it is particularly common on both sides of Cardinia Creek in the Beaconsfield Flora and Fauna Reserve (Old Princess Hwy to Inglis Rd) and in Beaconsfield Nature Conservation Reserve in O’Neill Rd. Widespread around Melbourne from the foothills of the Dandenong’s along the Dandenong Creek to Port Phillip Bay.
Just west of the Cardinia Creek in Berwick we have Manuka Rd which runs from the Princes Hwy to Inglis Rd.
Evidence suggests that Leptospermum scoparium evolved in Australia, then some 20 million years ago spread to New Zealand when seeds were dispersed by a long-distance event such as a cyclone or other wind event perhaps connected with bushfires. The plants became naturalised and widespread in NZ. Yet the plants have retained some fire adaptive traits which were essential in Australia but not necessary for survival in temperate NZ.
So with this background I contend Australian Apiarists have a right to produce and sell Manuka Honey.
Our cousins in New Zealand have a history of success with claiming names. Their most successful has been the rebranding of the Chinese Gooseberry to become Kiwi Fruit. Exports in 2015 were reported as being over $1 billion. In recent years there was an attempt to rebrand our Australian Waratah (which grows well in parts of NZ) as the New Zealand Rose. Fortunately that proposal was defeated and a cross-Tasman war was avoided.
By Alex Smart, OA