Aussie beekeepers claim proof Mānuka honey is theirs

  • 11/01/2018

A group of Australian beekeepers have claimed they have proof Australia was the first to produce Mānuka honey.

A battle is brewing between the two countries over the naming rights of the honey.

Mānuka honey is produced by European bees on a tea tree which is native to New Zealand and Australia.

Blue Hills Honey co-owner Nicola Charles told the ABC those breed of bees have been documented producing honey in Tasmania in 1884 - eight years before New Zealand.

"We feel we have a moral case to still call it Mānuka, and not be cut out from a global market that's got a potential to be a high revenue for Australia," Ms Charles told the ABC.

It stems from a decision by the UK Trade Mark Registry to allow Kiwis to trademark the term, because Mānuka is the Māori name given to the tree.

The Australian Mānuka Honey Association says the decision is unfair, and has hired lawyers to fight the trademark attempt.

They say Australian producers should be able to use the term because the country is home to more than 80 species of Mānuka, compared to just one in New Zealand.

They also say Australian Mānuka has exceptionally high levels of antibacterial activity, and claim that New Zealand's one species was originally migrated from Tasmania.

The UK Trade Mark Registry allows a period of time for interested parties to object to the ruling.