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Mānuka Charitable Trust Says Amendments To The Geographical Indications Act Are Self-sabotage

26 February, NZ: The Mānuka Charitable Trust believes the hastily drafted and truncated hearing process for the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on the European Union Free Trade Agreement Legislation Amendment Bill, contravenes protections under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and key iwi settlement legislation.

The Trust objected to the content of the Bill, at a special hearing of the Committee last Friday.

The Trust shares concerns raised that the proposed amendments to the Geographical Indications Act are strongly in favour of European Union producers at the expense of New Zealand’s equivalent high value distinctive exports, such as our MANUKA HONEY and oil, which will not receive any protection either in New Zealand or European markets.

“Government is about to underplay New Zealand’s x-factor both culturally and economically in international markets by not being committed to use geographical indications to protect “other goods” like our MANUKA HONEY,” said Pita Tipene, Chair of The Mānuka Charitable Trust.

“New Zealanders are losing out on the protections afforded to EU goods, culture and distinctiveness. Any well-intentioned or mature economy such as Aotearoa New Zealand would defend and protect its mana and the distinctiveness of its indigenous goods. The economic benefits of these typically high value, low volume exports flow to current and future generations,” he added.

Mānuka Charitable Trust wants the Government to use the Bill to take a simple step and amend the definition of a “New Zealand Geographical Indication” of the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 to include “other goods”.

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“At the start of this consultation, the Government was receptive to extending the Geographical Indications Act to goods other than wines and spirits. But there has been a U-turn on this without any consultation or discussion,” said Pita.

“In effect, this Bill has brought about a unilateral change. This is inconsistent with the partnership established under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the recommendations of Wai 262 and New Zealand’s international obligations,” he added.

David Banfield, Chief Executive at Comvita shares similar concerns about the Bill.

“Extending geographical indications to other goods will protect our high-value products and ensure continued international market growth of these products – as per the growth in New Zealand wine,” said David.

The New Zealand apiculture sector has experienced extraordinary growth since MANUKA HONEY’s antibacterial properties became internationally renowned. In the ten years to 2020, New Zealand honey export revenue increased five-fold to just over $525m. MANUKA HONEY drives 84% of all industry revenue and 91% of all honey export revenue.

At Parliament last week, the Honey Industry Strategy announced the ambitious goal of doubling exports to $1 billion by 2030. Projected growth in the international honey market is expected to reach more than $20 billion by 2030 and growth of MANUKA HONEY exports are expected to continue.

“We hope the Government will take the right course of action and amend the bill to allow for protection of New Zealand geographical indications for other goods. We believe this is undeniably the right step to take both culturally and economically for the long-term economic and cultural benefit of the whole of Aotearoa New Zealand,” said Pita.

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