When we heard a local group of enthusiastic volunteers were going to build a community garden just down the road from us, we jumped at the chance to offer our support. Arriving with an 8m3 truckload of our luscious, weed free KōLUSH Mānuka+Seaweed Garden Mulch, the gardening team soon got stuck into finishing the raised gardens which are now thriving with a bounty of vegetables for the local community.
In September 2017, the Opotiki community garden was given a new lease of life with the raised gardens being re-built and renamed as the “Pakowhai Community Garden” – Pa Kowhai being the name of the original Maori village located near where the Waioweka and Otara rivers merged. Pa Kowhai was also known to have had extensive cultivations so there is some wonderful local history to the community garden as well.
Tania Rother, Intercultural Research & Engagement Consultant and organiser of the community garden rebuild project, explains that the main purpose of the Pakowhai Community Garden is to revive the art of growing your own healthy food in Pakowhai/Ōpōtiki.
“We want the garden to become a place of inspiration, learning and sharing for the community, and show how easy and fun it is to grow your own vegetables!” says Tania.
The Kōlush Garden Mulch range is available as Mānuka or Mānuka+Seaweed. Both are made from bi-products of New Zealand Mānuka Group’s processing operations through the Mānuka oil processing and seaweed processing to produce Agar.
We strongly believe in the simplicity, science and sustainability of Mānuka as nature’s original super plant. From seedling to harvest and replanting, we use every part of this incredible resource which is delivered to you as honey, oil, skin care, wound care and now garden care.
“We’ve built the new garden beds and then ran a workshop on Lasagna Gardening with the Mānuka mulch as the key ingredient,” Tania explains.
“The produce from the garden goes directly into the beautiful kai that is prepared at ‘The Shed’ Café in Opotiki which is run by Toi Ohomai students enrolled in the Food and Beverage diploma.”
To find out more about Pakowhai Community Garden or to get involved, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/opotiki
New Zealand Mānuka Group was proud to support what was literally the trip of a lifetime for 19 secondary school students from Te Kura Mana Māori o Whangaparāoa, Cape Runaway, East Cape, who recently returned from a two week trip to Crete to retrace the footsteps of their ancestors who fought in both B & C Company of the 28th Maori Battalion.
For many of the students the life-changing experience started the minute they stepped on the plane as they had never owned a passport or been overseas before. Their two years of fundraising and studying was finally paying off as they left New Zealand on 27th September to pay their respects for those who fought in Greece and Crete.
“The trip was excellent and a real eye-opener for all our students,” agreed tour organiser and principal of Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa, Tuihana Pook. “The kids learnt so much and they could relate to the Greek history very quickly because of the learning they had done as well as the Greek movies they had seen prior to leaving.”
The group also attracted the interest of local historians who meet with the students and accompanied their visits to a number of the historic sites. The students performed the original haka for their hosts which gained them even more support and interest during their visit.
As Tuihana explains further, “The older people were very taken by the children telling them that they were following the footsteps of where their ancestors who fought in the war. They were very interested to the kids talking about their experience their as well as where they come from in New Zealand – to be foreigners and have so many people interested in where they came from was huge for our kids.”
On their return, the students were asked to give a presentation to the parents and sponsors (including the Board of Trustees of Te Kura Mana Māori o Whangaparāoa, a number of local land block trusts as well as New Zealand Mānuka Group) as part of a welcome home dinner with their community.
“Our guests were very impressed with the presentation,” continues Tuihana. “They really showed their knowledge and understanding of their ancestors as well as their experience of meeting people from other countries and experiencing other cultures.”
The students met and interacted with many different cultures, religions and lifestyles during their trip, stopping in Thailand on the way over, spending time with the people of Crete in Greece and seeing the vast wealth of the United Arab Emirates when they stopped at Dubai on the way home. Tuihana has since noticed that they all seem to have a new found confidence in their abilities to get things done, fill in forms or just give things a try since they have got back.
“They also seem to have a lot more patience too after having to wait in so many queues to get through airports, customs clearances, ferry trips and generally getting around.”
An important part of our operations are our Mānuka plantations and annual tree planting programme. To support the wonderful community organisation that is “Trees That Count”, we have added our pledge to plant a total of 4,000,000 native trees which will be a significant jump in their annual tally.
Trees That Count is an online community marketplace literally counting and actively promoting the planting of native trees annually nationwide. The goal for 2017 was to see one tree planted for every New Zealander – that’s 4.7 million trees. With the addition of our pledge soon to be added to the count we have achieved more than doubled this goal!
We strongly believe in the simplicity, science and sustainability of Mānuka as nature’s original super plant. This is why we have established a propogation and nursery programme which will allow us to plant over four million seedlings Mānuka each year. Our landowner partners throughout the East Cape and Wairarapa regions are continuing to convert their land into fully irrigated horticulture operations which is allowing us to push ahead with significant investment in our “super plant” developments.
Established in 2016, Trees That Count is “part of an ambitious plan to create a movement where Kiwis unite to help restore and enhance the environment, encourage biodiversity, clean air and waterways, and make a difference to climate change in New Zealand by planting native trees.”
The marketplace is open to individuals, groups and companies throughout New Zealand all of whom are encouraged to add to the live tree count online. Whether you are simply planting some native trees at the back of your property or involved in more commercial operations like our Mānuka planting programme, all native trees count.
The Punakaiki Crafts & Café Nikau, located directly opposite the entrance pathway to the Pancake Rocks & Blowhole at Dolomite Point, Punakaiki, is undertaking some major improvements thanks to the motivation and direction of our newly appointed store manager, Joel Smith. Locals & tourists alike are showing their support for the changes through their increased foot traffic and store sales.
Our Punakaiki store, the New Zealand Mānuka Direct branch to our business, was originally started by New Zealand Mānuka Group Executive Director, Phil Caskey, and his wife Sharan to educate the growing number of international visitors coming to Punakaiki with the story of mānuka, New Zealand’s original super plant. Earlier this year we were seeking a new manager to run the store and staff of five when we were fortunate enough to meet Joel Smith.
“I was thrilled to be accepted for this job,” explains Joel. “I saw this as a wonderful role and an opportunity to do something worthwhile in this community.”
Joel Smith comes from an impressive background in marketing and public affairs for the New Zealand Ministries of Transport and Police, as well 14 years as an owner/operator of five McDonalds’ stores in the North and South Islands. Understandably, he puts customer service as his number one priority.
“We consider and treat all our customers as our guests whom we have the absolute privilege to serve,” says Joel. “This starts with a friendly welcome as soon as they walk in the door.”
New Zealand Mānuka Group CEO, Karl Gradon, also acknowledged and thanked previous store manager, Chris King, for her incredible contribution to the business.
“We wish her and her partner John all the best for the future,” says Karl. “Chris leaves behind a legacy she can be proud of.”
Joel has been building on this legacy since he started in October 2017, implementing a number of changes and innovations store-wide. As well repainting the building and outdoor seating area, the instore café now uses Sublime Coffee and is located in a more accessible location for their regular customers and as well as passing tourists.
As our beekeepers are kept busy collecting hives from strategic locations throughout the North Island, all reports are indicating a successful 2017/18 season.
National Beekeeping Manager, Hein Wait, has been out in the field supporting our teams and checking on our hives throughout the Wairarapa, East Cape, Northland and Taranaki regions. He believes that, come March when final yields will be confirmed, we can expect a much stronger season than last year.
“The hives are looking very strong,” confirms Hein. “It’s still early days to comment on their yields but there are areas where the honey is really looking good. Because we operate in regions with low density of manuka cover, we are expecting that the production will be of high grade under the new MPI definitions”
“We are flying hives out now which are all showing much higher production than last year.”
This is good news for our beekeepers who faced a challenging start to the season with heavy rain and strong winds through November and December, forcing many to wait out the weather when normally they would be tending the hives.
Hein summarises the status of the North Island regions where our beekeeping units are based in partnership with our local Maori landowners:
Wairarapa – The season here is now well over. Some land blocks now don’t have anything for the bees to forage so we are supporting them with KōBEE Bee Nutrition tonic which kept them strong and healthy between seasons last year.
East Cape – The Mānuka has finished flowering in this region and is looking positive.
Northland & Taranaki – This was our first season in the Northland region so we ran this as a trial. Early reports from our team are also indicating very positive results.
Our honey yields also point to the health of our bees and hives with some doing so well that we will look at splitting some of our hives. Despite the periods of bad weather which effectively shortened the beekeeping season for our teams, everyone is happy with the honey and yields as well as the health of our bees and hives.