15 Mar 2018

Mānuka battle: Federal funding for Australian campaign

6:20 pm on 15 March 2018

The mānuka honey industry is baffled that the Australian government is funding a new international mānuka marketing campaign.

A billboard at Melbourne Airport celebrating mānuka honey as Australian-made.

A billboard at Melbourne Airport celebrating mānuka honey as Australian-made. Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

The newly formed Australian Manuka Honey Association [http://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/5278740/spreading-the-sweet-word-about-manuka-honey/

has been given] $165,000 to push, promote, and market its honey.

However - the battle between New Zealand and Australia over the word 'mānuka' is still ongoing - with Australians claiming they have documented evidence of the word being used there first.

John Rawcliffe from the Mānuka Honey Appellation Society wants to stop Australia cashing in on New Zealand's lucrative mānuka honey market.

He said the latest move from the Australian government was perplexing.

"Why is the federal government helping fund this?... obviously a government-to-government issue ... but on the facts as we have them it's quite concerning."

Mr Rawcliffe said the industry here had tried to collaborate with Australia.

"We're trying but the doors have been shut, we asked to go to one of their meetings and they said 'no it was an internal thing'."

The term mānuka should only be used here, he said.

"These are common name terms we use in New Zealand, they have their own wonderful term 'tea tree' and we can all win ... rather than spending money ridiculously in a 'battle' as some people call it, which is not helpful in all countries.

"It's a matter of saying - you've got good honeys, we've got good honeys - lets do our own journeys."

He said the Mānuka Honey Appellation Society would put its case forward to the New Zealand government on how to create a win-win situation between the two countries.

"We're not out to have a battle. We have to protect our position, we have to distinguish, define, and sell our products in a world market.

"Those are the principles we will be fighting for."

Mr Rawcliffe said there was growing evidence - coming from Australians overseas - against Australia's claims over mānuka honey.

"They are concerned about what is going on and have actually given us some of this information. The first recorded article is in the Sydney Morning Herald, dates 1837.

"It actually references the tree being mānuka, based on the fact that it looks like the New Zealand mānuka tree."

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