'It's a lie': Trans-Tasman stoush over mānuka honey name heats up

The Australian honey industry is fighting back at attempts by their New Zealand counterparts to trademark the use of the term 'mānuka honey' in China.

Mānuka honey is produced by bees who feed off nectar from leptospermum scoparium, which is a type of tea tree, and the honey is highly sought after around the world.

The marketing of mānuka honey has been a contentious issue for many years, with New Zealand's Mānuka Honey Appellation Society campaigning for exclusive rights to use the term.

However the stoush has been reignited after a bid for trademark certification in China was endorsed by the New Zealand Government.

If successful, the trademarking of mānuka honey would cut other competitors out of the market, and cost the Australian honey industry up to a billion dollars in export revenue.

The move has angered Australian beekeepers, including the president of the Tasmanian Beekeeper Association, Lindsay Bourke.

"We've been very nice, now we're getting really sick of it because it's a lie," he said.

He also claimed that Australia had many more species of mānuka than New Zealand.

"There are 84 mānuka in Australia, New Zealand only has one," said Bourke.

"The little mānuka tree they've got in New Zealand is the exact same one they had in Tasmania, way before New Zealand popped up out of the ocean as an atoll."

Australian Agriculture Minister,  Bridget McKenzie told Australian media that her office was "seeking clarification" from the New Zealand Government.