Plant Manuka. Lots more Manuka

Posted on June 29, 2018

In 1969 at the Te Rapa Racecourse, the first New Zealand agricultural fieldays kicked off an annual event. The first fieldays event was attended by about 10,000 people. It was a success from the very first event and Mystery Creek has evolved into one of the most successful agricultural events in the Southern Hemisphere today.

Stand F47 was the site that Kauri Park occupied for the 50th Fieldays exhibition last month, demonstrating our wide selection of Manuka and showcasing the option of Manuka forestry. The slightly ironic aspect about this Manuka story is that if we told landowners in 1969 that there would be an economic benefit in planting their hillsides in Manuka, we would have almost ended up before a magistrate.

The Kauri Park story at the Fieldays had quite a simple narrative. “Plant Manuka, lots more Manuka”.

The implementation of this narrative is far more complex. Today, the demand for Manuka honey far outstrips the availability of nectar flow  and this will remain the case for several years if we are going to progress at  current forestation rates.

The obvious best way forward for beekeepers is to secure large blocks of Manuka forest without the risk of over population of hives and the longest nectar flow possible. Beekeepers plus new Manuka forests is what we were seeking to bring together at the Fieldays.

Kauri Park displayed our range of superior DHA selections from the Far North and Northland which flower October – December and from the Taranaki and Central North Island which flower January – February.

The stand had a good amount of foot traffic  and hundreds of people enquiring as to the possibilities of the Manuka industry.

Existing customers and familiar faces visited our stand. Some came to say hello and swap their stories …others to add to their Manuka forests…a few sent their staff to see us. There were new people coming to us which is always exciting and shows the momentum in the industry. Beekeepers weren’t abundant as the landowners but a few visited the stand. Even the well-known folk of this country who are not in the Manuka trade called in for a chat as they know the positive benefits of Manuka and want to know that it is still a progressive industry.

The Fieldays brings rural NZ out of the far away valleys and into a common ground. Without fail, we always learn something new about the benefits of Manuka. This year was no different. A Waikato farming couple told us of their long history with Manuka and the medicinal properties that it has with sheep. This farmer used Manuka for facial eczema in the most extraordinary simple way. He would cut branches off the oily leaved manuka plants and put them in the water troughs, replacing them every 10 days. His neighbours would be drenching and losing stock in high percentages while his flock remained healthy and strong. He even reversed very bad cases of eczema with some of his Manuka oil potions drenched orally.

A common theme from a number of landowners is how to protect their waterways. Farmers are very concerned about leaving their legacy in a better condition then when they started  using the land. Enhancing waterways with plantings is an obvious place to start improving water quality. There is a need for more science on this topic but the beneficial properties that Manuka has for improving waterways is amazing. The removal of nitrates and the reduction in fecal coliforms as water travels through Manuka planting are two key areas of interest.

One landowner is going to plant extra wide swaths of land either side of his waterways in primarily Manuka. His theory is that he will provide more than enough waterway protection, shelter for animals from wind and nectar for bees. All these point to a better farming operation.

It is possibly a topical subject right now with all of the East Cape and Tasman flooding making the news footage recently. Many people expressed concern about the cut over pine being washed into our rivers and causing serious damage and pollution. There is a number of factors as to why this has happened but it has caused more people to think about native forestry in these difficult areas to practice silviculture and harvesting.

After our  busy week exhibiting at Mystery Creek, we are now following up enquiries. New Zealanders have bought new machinery. Fencing professionals have honed their skills. Tractors have pulled heavy stuff. Agricultural NZ has improved.

Video kindly supplied by the New Zealand National Fieldays Society