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First Honey Collection On Behalf Of East Coast Iwi

News Release January 20, 2003

First Honey Collection On Behalf Of East Coast Iwi A Success

The first collection of honey from 300 beehives supplied by Comvita New Zealand to East Coast iwi took place today. Some 600 boxes of active manuka honey were uplifted from East Cape's Waipiro Bay - a top result according to Comvita.

Chris Elmsly, Comvita's operations manager, says the hives each yielded around 40kgs of honey.

"This represents a good start for this ground-breaking project," says Elmsly.

He refers to the joint arrangement Comvita has with Ngati Porou iwi to foster a beekeeping industry around Waipiro Bay - to produce active manuka honey on otherwise unproductive land. It's believed the new venture has the potential to generate substantial returns for all participants.

The East Cape project began with the delivery of 300 hives, along with their resident bees, to strategic locations around Waipiro Bay. The hives, valued at approximately $40,000, were sourced from the South island to avoid varroa mite problems.

In a unique arrangement between Comvita and Ngati Porou iwi, landowners will receive economic returns on the East Cape hives. Ultimately, the hapu at Waipiro Bay will purchase the hives and run them as a stand-alone operation. Hapu individuals interested in beekeeping will be trained with Comvita's assistance once they have been identified.

It's not known yet whether the honey collected from Waipiro bay will have the unique manuka factor (UMF), a special antibacterial property unique to manuka honey. This won't be known until after the honey has been extracted and tested. Extraction of the honey will be carried out at beekeeper Stephen Weenink's Bay of Plenty extraction facility. Processing and packaging will take place at Comvita's Paengaroa manufacturing plant.

Comvita's CEO, Graeme Boyd, says the Waipiro Bay result reflects the season the company is enjoying nationally.

"Yields are expected to be up to 30 per cent higher than in previous years," he says. "All areas from the Coromandel through to East Cape, National Park and Wanganui are producing exceptionally well."

Boyd says the national result is pleasing following last season's disastrous outcome which saw manuka honey shortages.

"The positive start to the East Cape project bodes well for duplicating this (project) with other iwi in areas where manuka thrives."

These areas include Northland and parts of the central North Island.


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