Little country, big impact: the history of Wild Ferns products

New Zealand natural skin care

New Zealand is a small country with a big global impact. Nestled deep in the South pacific is the archipelago of islands that make up New Zealand. The main North and South Islands are home to about 4 million people, and feature wide open spaces, dramatic scenery, and a diverse culture.

Creativity and innovation are the main drivers of the Kiwi export economy, and family businesses have a dominant presence. Today we are covering the history of the Parrs family, manufacturers of the popular Wild Ferns line we represent.

Parrs products started in Auckland in 1951 when Des and Margaret Parr first manufactured dolls dressed in traditional Maori costumes under the brand name Maori Reflections. In the 1980’s Greg and Janet Parr were the first ones to make soap bars with the famous Therapeutic Thermal Mud from Rotorua. These soaps were such a success that the operation was expanded to making a broad range of skin care products with the most famous natural ingredients from New Zealand: Manuka Honey, Bee Venom, Lanolin, Rotorua Mud, Kiwifruit, and Native Flowers.

After the initial success of the Rotorua Mud soaps, Maori Reflections merged with the incipient skin care operation. The resulting company retained the deep interest in New Zealand culture and traditions, and these values were maintained and strengthened as the company grew exponentially.

Today, Wild Ferns products are sold throughout the world and are immensely popular in countries as diverse as Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, the U.K., Poland, and the U.S. There are six product lines that correspond to these basic ingredients:

  • Manuka Honey

Manuka is a flowering tree native to New Zealand. The honey that is collected from its flowers has long been renowned for its remarkable beneficial properties. A number of natural components in Manuka Honey combine to nourish, soothe, and heal sensitive skin.

View all Wild Ferns Manuka Honey products


  • Bee Venom

Purified Bee Venom from New Zealand combined with Manuka Honey results in a younger looking complexion and healthier, firmer skin. The VENZ Purified Bee Venom used in these products is harvested without harming the bees.

View all Wild Ferns Bee Venom products


  • Lanolin

Lanolin has long been renowned for its extremely beneficial moisturizing and nourishing properties and therefore is ideal as key ingredient in skin care. Lanolin is readily absorbed into the skin making it look younger and softer while improving the suppleness and elasticity associated with healthy, youthful skin. Proof of this is in the hands of shearers and wool workers around the world – they are known for having particularly soft hands that retain their youthful look due to their constant handling of lanolin-rich sheep’s wool.

View all Wild Ferns Lanolin products

  • Rotorua Mud

In Rotorua the inner heat of the earth has found its way to the surface bringing with it Rotorua’s earth magic geothermal mud. Rich in rejuvenating minerals this mud has natural cleansing, healing, and rebalancing properties. Rotorua Mud is excellent for use in skin care and has a very strong affinity for moisture.  On drying, Rotorua Mud generates heat which helps in eliminating toxins and pollution particles.  It easily absorbs excess oils from within the pores, detoxifying and purifying the skin. Unlike the environmental devastation caused by the mining of Dead Sea Mud, Rotorua Mud comes from a sustainable source and is collected in an environmentally sound way.

View all Wild Ferns Rotorua Mud products

  • Kiwifruit

New Zealand is the home of the finest kiwifruit. Not only are kiwifruits attractive in appearance but they are naturally high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and Omega 3, all beneficial for the health and enhancement of your skin.

View all Wild Ferns Kiwifruit products


  • Flowers

A collection of luxurious pampering products created with nourishing Manuka Honey and botanical extracts of New Zealand’s beautiful native flowers. These flowers are not only beautiful but they also have properties to assist in the health and wellbeing of the skin.

View all Wild Ferns Flowers products


Wild Ferns products comply with the basic principles of all Parrs products:

  • 100% New Zealand made
  • Not tested on animals
  • Environmentally friendly packaging, including natural inks
  • Paraben free
  • Mineral Oil free
  • Highly beneficial to the skin
  • Ethical, sustainable sourcing, and traceability of all ingredients

Wild Ferns products are unique and honest, like New Zealand itself.

To learn more about:

Family businesses in New Zealand

Parrs Products Ltd

Dreaming of East Cape Te Araroa

East Cape Te Araroa

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

East Cape Te Araroa Manuka Oil

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.

East Cape Manuka 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

Tui Balms

Tui Balms

The original Tui Bee Balme was created in New Zealand by Colin Isles in the early 80’s. The recipe was donated to the Tui Community, where the operation remains to this day. The brand is named after the Tui, a beautiful bird endemic to New Zealand.

Tui Balms is dedicated to the creation of all-natural and safe balms in the tradition of balms made by ancient cultures.  The word “balm” denotes a fragrant, healing or soothing lotion. Derived from the earlier word “balsam” – a fragrant, aromatic, often resinous substance oozing from various plants, balms are synonymous with gentle healing of the skin. Prior to modern technologies to emulsify water and preserve skin care creams and lotions, almost all skin care products were balms. These balms were made by shamans, elders and the wise women of tribes or cultures who had a long-standing relationship with natural ingredients, especially plants. It is in this tradition that Tui Balms has come to make massage balms, Bee Balm and other natural balms.

Tui Balms rely greatly upon pure essential oils for their active and fragrant properties.  Tui makes balms using only natural source ingredients. The Coop grows its own food organically, using the principles of Permaculture, which members feel provide a practical connection to the balm makers of days gone by.

Traditional balms are different to modern medicines. They can be equally effective and in some cases more so. But they often need to be worked with differently. Balms may need to be applied more frequently than heavy-handed synthetic equivalents. Similarly, it is important to keep in mind that a balm is a gentle healing substance and might need to be applied over a longer period of time than say, modern immune response suppressors, like hydrocortisones.

Balms generally are positive healers. In this sense, they nurture and nourish the skin to health rather than negatively suppressing symptoms or killing off organisms, including those that are beneficial. This is not to say that the balms are devoid of any antiseptic properties The bee balm for instance contains Propolis, which has anti-bacterial qualities. Balms soothe and nurture while being gentle and safe, enhancing and assisting the body’s own natural pathways to health. The essential oils and waxes used are often targeted towards overall effects like relaxation rather than acting as broad spectrum “cure all” silver bullets. The effects these balms have are therefore beneficial holistically. In the same vein, the certified organic NZ beeswax and pure vegetable oils used are ideal carriers of the other active ingredients. They moisten and nourish the skin also, rather than being extra unnecessary material that serves no good purpose. This is in stark contrast to many products that can contain a wide range of ingredients unnecessary to healing and even potentially damaging to health.

View our collection of Tui Balms

Please watch an interesting video on the Tui operation.

A portion of the proceeds by Tui are donated to the Tui Spiritual and Educational Trust


Koru Naturals customer Mugsy loves our Pure Lanolin

flaky dog nosePoor Mugsy suffers from a painful skin condition that causes pieces of his nose to dry out and fall off. After the expensive creams prescribed by his vet failed miserably, Mugsy used his Amazon Prime account to buy a set of four Koru Naturals lanolin pots. Life is so much better now! No more flaking and painful irritation, and he even gets to lick the remaining lanolin off his nose! Mugsy has discovered what other dogs, horses, and humans have also discovered since we started our company in 2001: nothing beats the simple, natural power of our pure pharmaceutical grade lanolin.

I remember watching sheep in Australia during a torrential rain, and feeling like a fool because my new Burberry didn’t even come close to the natural waterproofing of the sheep’s coat. Lanolin forms a layer on the skin that helps retain moisture for many hours after application, resulting in an average 50% decrease in roughness and irritation, far better than either glycerin or petrolatum. Nothing is better than lanolin for skin cracks, abrasions, minor wounds, pain, extreme dryness, and itch. Available from Koru Naturals in 2 oz pots and lip balm tubes.

Coffee plants have flowers? And they don’t smell like coffee beans?

coffee_flowersOur new Flowers and Fire Solid Fragrance contains an extract from very rare coffee flowers. The fragrance of coffee flowers is just wonderfully deep and with none of the overly sweet tones of other fragrances like gardenias. But, when looking for people to test the new fragrance we ran into an unexpected problem: people just don’t believe that coffee flowers don’t smell like coffee beans. “No, thanks, I don’t want to smell like my morning cup of java”. Truth is that coffee flowers don’t smell like coffee at all. But, there was no choice but to change the name to Flowers and Fire from Coffee Flowers and Fire!

image Coffee flowers  Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

New Wild Ferns Manuka Honey Skin Care Line

honey bee on white rose
EssjayNZ / / CC BY-NC-SA

The first products of the new Wild Ferns Manuka Honey line have arrived, and they are just awesome. The line is at least 95% all natural ingredients and packed with the goodness of New Zealand Manuka Honey. Paraben Free, No Mineral Oil, Not Tested on Animals. Featuring all new formulas containing more ingredients from nature and a more natural preservative system. Also, eco-friendly packaging, down to biodegradable inks. Look for the bird symbol on the label, which means at least 90% natural ingredients.

A sad day for the Manuka Honey industry

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Professor Peter Molan, the “founding father” of the manuka honey industry. Over his long and highly productive career at the University of Waikato, Peter published more than 90 papers reporting on the research that led to establishing Manuka Honey as one of the best natural products in the world. Goodbye Peter, and thank you for your gifts to the world.

Wikipedia on Dr. Molan
New Zealand news

Now for something really spooky!

Almost Halloween and the FDA is here to spoil the fun but keep you safe!

Check the ingredients! Halloween makeup kits must be labeled as non-toxic. Eye makeup containing kohl (also called kajal, al-kahl or surma)? Not safe. It may not even be kohl, but some dark pigment not safe for eye use. Imported products are particularly dangerous, and are routinely confiscated by the FDA.

DIY Halloween makeup? Careful. Blueberries will stain your face for days or weeks. Blue face for Thanksgiving anyone? Citrus extracts will sensitize your skin to sunlight,. easily causing burns and blisters. Good to eat doesn’t necessarily mean good for your skin!

Color contact lenses? Yes, if made by a reputable company and approved by the FDA.

Check the FDA pages for the Lucky 13 tips for a safe Halloween!

Emu oil à la soybean oil? No, thank you!

38-365 Fingerprint
bcymet / Foter / CC BY-NC

We all know that a lot of emu oil out there is adulterated by cutting with cheap vegetable oils. Since the cooking oils used are bleached and deodorized, detection is very difficult. Only an analysis of the lipid composition of the oil done by a lab certified by the American Oil Chemists’ Society can tell whether the emu oil is pure. We order these tests for every batch of our oil, and we now provide a copy of the results with every order we ship. Emu Oil has an unique “lipid fingerprint” which is different from the compositions of any other oil. If someone has adulterated the oil, it’s crystal clear from the results. Read more about our tested Grade A Emu Oil!

Rooftop Honey

Filling Her Pollen Basket
BugMan50 / Foter / CC BY-NC

If you go to Fortnum & Mason’s grocery section you’ll find honey produced from hives at the rooftop of their flagship London store. Honey from the rooftop of a Piccadilly department store? Welcome to the urban beekeeping trend. Up to 50,000 F&M bees can fly up to three miles around London looking for yummy flowers to feed on. Walk 8 minutes to the London Stock Exchange and perhaps they will let you see the 100,000 bees that Chief Executive Xavier Rolet keeps on the roof of the building. No London Stock Exchange honey for sale, at least not yet (although this may change if the stock market doesn’t recover soon!).

Not limited to London, urban beekeeping is also thriving in New York and other big cities. Could urban beekeeping become an agricultural force? Not really because there are simply not enough flowering plants in a big city to support large populations of bees. In the meantime, rural bees continue to be in big trouble. Since the end of World Word II habitat loss and degradation has devastated colonies all over the world. Then, a vicious mite that attacks bees has spread from Japan, resulting in big losses of wild bees. Although the science is still controversial, it appears that some pesticides are linked to the decline in bee populations.

In order to keep honey free from chemicals, honeybee populations must be actively managed. A lot of TLC goes into the production of our East Cape Manuka Honey. Also, a lot of labor, which equals higher costs!