It’s so much fun to dream about the beautiful places our products come from! Like the Te Araroa Mānuka products (yes, in Māori there is a funny accent on the “a”). Te Araroa is the Eastern-most tip of New Zealand, and part of the East Cape region. Even by New Zealand standards, the region is wild and rugged, full of fields of purple lupine and golden grasses. No crowds here: population about 600, mostly Māori.
The Mānuka Tree is deeply intertwined with the history of Te Araroa. The Māori used every part of the tree for an amazing range of products: medicine, weapons, tools, canoes, and firewood.
Captain Cook was the first Westerner to use Mānuka for health, brewing Mānuka leaves to treat the serious stomach problems of his crew. Later, European settlers adopted some of the uses but they mostly saw the Mānuka tree as a noxious weed that made development difficult. Little did they know that decades later products of the Mānuka tree, mostly oil and honey, would become one of New Zealand’s main export industries!
Mānuka trees are everywhere in the East Cape Te Araroa landscape. As trees, they don’t look like much. They are low, bushy, scraggly little trees. But they are survivors that can grow and prosper everywhere, regardless of conditions. You can see why they were seen as weeds. They definitely act like weeds! All weeds have a secret to prosper, and the Mānuka
secret is the oil that accumulates in the leaves and stems. This Mānuka oil is the most powerful antibacterial and antifungal oil in nature and it helps protect the plants against microbial invaders. And specially the East Cape Te Araroa Mānuka Oil, which is the most powerful available. Natural Solutions, our Te Araroa partner, uses spring water from the area to extract this oil by distillation, making it the best Mānuka Oil available.
At flowering time the Mānuka trees become a symphony of colors that lasts about six weeks. This explosion of color dramatically changes the landscape of the East Cape, and this is the signal to the bees to get really busy producing what will become the famous and rare East Cape Te Araroa Mānuka Honey.
So the next time you hold a bottle of our Mānuka Oil or a jar of our honey, remember this beautiful, rugged, wild area in the spring bursting with color, flowers, and bees – all combining to produce some of the most powerful, natural oils and honeys that Mother Nature ever produced – elixirs of health!
Learn more about the Manuka Tree from Robert Vennell’s The Meaning of Trees Blog
Learn more about Te Araroa and its wonderful and challenging trail