Mythology that warms our hearts

Mānuka and Māori Mythology

“In the beginning before the world was light, Rangi the sky-father and Papa the earth-mother were bound together, their offspring caught in the darkness between them. Their strongest son, Tane Mahuta, put his shoulder to Papa and thrust upwards with his powerful legs, creating life and light.”
− Maori legend

And Tane Mahuta became the Maori God of the forests. Tane Mahuta married Tawake-toro, and together they had the Mānuka tree! This is how deep  Mānuka’s roots are in New Zealand’s history and culture.

The Māori often say that Mānuka has “whakapapa”.  Literally translated, whakapapa means “genealogy”. But, it is actually a deeply spiritual concept that is a fundamental principle in Māori culture. Your personal whakapapa places you in the context of your ancestors and the lands where they lived, and centers your identity in the context of your personal history.

So Mānuka has whakapapa, and this is why New Zealanders take everything that is Mānuka so seriously.

Tāne Mahuta doesn’t just exist in mythology, but is also a gigantic kauri tree alive today. Tāne Mahuta stands at an impressive 170 feet tall, and it’s trunk is 45 feet wide, and it may be over 2,000 years old. You can hug this kauri tree at the Waipoua Forest of Northland, New Zealand, and feel a surge of inner peace and deep respect for its ancient history.

At Koru Naturals we know that when we go through great lengths to ensure the purity and quality of our Mānuka Honey and Mānuka Oil, Tāne Mahuta is watching us approvingly!

Ministry of Education.

Image Copyright

Vitamin C in skincare: how difficult can it be?

by Tamara Green

NZ Fusion Botanicals
NZ Fusion Botanicals

Pretty difficult, apparently. We had so many customers ask why the NZ Fusion Botanicals Vitamin C and Manuka Honey Brightening Serum is better than other Vitamin C serums that we decided to investigate what’s so special about it. And, after many hours spent talking with the cosmetic experts that designed the product and to chemists at some of the companies that make the ingredients, we have our answer (drum roll, please): we’re not sure.

Well, it’s pretty frustrating that after talking to so many experts we still don’t know exactly why this serum works so well. But, the reality is that although cosmetic science has advanced so much in the last few years, the performance of a particular combination of ingredients is still difficult to predict.  Even when using top ingredients and the best minds in the field, some outcomes are better than others. And in the case of this serum, the outcome has been fantastic.

Digging deeper into the ingredients, we can guess why this combination was particularly successful. The first thing we see on the ingredients list is that the focus on natural ingredients and ancient knowledge about plant extracts, which are the two primary principles of NZ Fusion Botanicals, were clearly applied to this product. There is not a single nasty chemical in this serum, and we see a number of plant ingredients that have long histories of benefiting the skin.  Even with my limited knowledge of skin care ingredients, I can see several fascinating components. I see aloe leaf juice and cucumber extract, both known for calming irritated skin and hydrating your skin. Of course, there is also Vitamin C in the form of ethyl ascorbic acid. Fruit extracts are the source of Alpha Hydroxy Acids, known to improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Niacinamide, or Vitamin B3, needs no introduction after how much Dr. Oz has extolled the multiple skin benefits of this ingredient.

And then, Manuka Honey 20+, the queen of all skin care ingredients, deserves its own paragraph. We have known for a long time that you can take two skin creams with similar ingredients but one has Manuka Honey and the other one doesn’t, and the one with the Manuka Honey is far superior.  And other honeys are not the same. So maybe skin care is like nutrition where no other honey is as good as pure Manuka Honey.

As I apply this NZ Fusion Vitamin C Serum tonight, I’m thinking that creating skin care products has a lot in common with cooking: ingredients are of course critical, but temperature, size and material of the cookware, time, and other factors make a huge difference. And, as in cooking, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case in the serum. If it works great, just use it. After all, that is all that matters!

Little country, big impact: the history of Wild Ferns 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, and Rotorua Mud.

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

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

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

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!

Kanuka vs. Manuka

Koru Naturals offers both Kanuka Oil and Manuka Oil. What’s the difference?

Once the two trees were thought to be closely related, but botanists have identified important differences between these two New Zealand natives.

Kunzea ericoides, the kanuka tree, doesn’t reach its full growth for decades, and can live for centuries. It flowers once a year, with creamy blossoms which are smaller than the manuka tree’s flowers.

Leptospermum scoparium, the manuka tree, has a lifespan of about 60 years. It has  one major flowering each year, producing beautiful blossoms, and may flower again later in the year.

The two plants look different, and manuka is more prized for the very special honey produced by bees who sip from its flowers. But both are ancient natives of New Zealand, and both have been used for centuries in traditional health and beauty treatments.

Captain Cook and early European settlers called these trees “tea trees,” for the simple reason that they made tea from them. Unfortunately, these early tea fanciers made tea from many kinds of leaves, and also applied the name “tea tree” to Melaleuca Alternifolia, which is the source of many oils called “tea tree oil.” These oils often contain contaminants.

Our organic kanuka and manuka oils, from sustainably harvested trees and extracted by the gentle steam extraction method, are completely different.

Maori and European settlers alike believed that the oils from the leaves of these trees improved their health. Historical records show that distillations from these trees were thought to help with stomach ailments, pain, and skin care, among other things.

Researchers at Victoria University found that both these trees produce oil with anti-bacterial qualities. Massey University researchers found that manuka oil was beneficial for acne.

But which will you prefer? Happy customers have written about great results from both of these oils, and you may need to try them both to discover which one suits your needs best.

Fortunately, we also offer a kanuka oil/ manuka oil blend.

5 Things You Didn’t Know about Lip Care


Maybe “lip care” is a regular part of your vocabulary and you have a special lip care regimen. Or maybe you do nothing for your lips unless you end up with cracks and bleeding while sailing or skiing.

Either way, you might not know these facts about lip care:

  1. Cracked lips can actually be a sign of dehydration. They can also be caused by dry air either in a dry climate or in an air-conditioned building. It seems unfair that people working in an office get the same condition as people out having fun on desert hikes, but it’s true.
  2. Licking lips makes them dryer, rather than hydrating them. Avoid flavored lip gloss if you tend to lick your lips.
  3. Lip health can be an issue for guys as well as girls. Especially for guys who are embarrassed to use lip balm. Our pure lanolin lip balm looks a lot more manly than most. The label says, “pharmaceutical grade,” which is true. If someone laughs when you use your lip balm, you can raise one eyebrow and growl, “pharmaceutical grade” and put an end to it.
  4. Cancer of the lip is rare, but it does exist. It’s much more common in men, and some researchers believe that this is because women are more likely to use lipstick, which provides some protection from sun.
  5. There is a medical name for chapped lips: cheilitis. Will the use of this word allow you to call in sick until your lip care treatment begins to work? Maybe not. It may get you more sympathy than plain old chapped lips, though.

Emu Oil for Beautiful Hair

emu oil for hair
Beaumonth / Foter / CC BY-NC

Your hair is made primarily of protein. Eating enough protein and staying in good health is the surest way to beautiful hair. But let’s be realistic — we let our hair bake in the sun and get dried by chlorine and salt water, we use heat and chemicals on it, and we strip the natural oils from it with harsh shampoos.

Unless you’re much more careful than the average person, summer can mean dry, damaged hair.  An oil like emu oil, rich in omega lipids and proteins, can moisturize your hair very effectively and keep it looking healthy and beautiful.

Why should you use emu oil for your hair?

  • Oil coats and protects the hair.
  • Oil makes it easy to detangle hair without breakage.
  • The fatty acids help repair damage.

But that doesn’t mean that you should oil your hair the way you’d lubricate an engine or grease a pan. Covering your hair with oil and stepping out into the sun can lead to fried hair. What’s more, if you regularly oil your scalp and hair to excess, it can persuade your body to stop producing natural oils for your hair, and you can end up with dry hair.

Instead, put two or three drops of emu oil in the palm of one hand. Rub that hand with the fingers of your other hand and run your fingers through your hair, starting at the end of the strands. Work your way up to within a few inches of your scalp.  Massage the scalp for a relaxing finish to the regime.

Wrap your hair and wait 30 minutes before washing your hair with Emu Oil Shampoo and Conditioner. It’s an invigorating routine and your hair will be soft and healthy.

Surprising Benefits of Emu Oil

pedrosimoes7 / Foter / CC BY

We know about the most commonly mentioned benefits of emu oil. We know that it moisturizes skin, sinking deeply in to do good without leaving an oily feel. We know that it helps with healing and scars. We know that it moisturizes hair, too, and makes a handy ingredient for DIY spa products.

But our customers have opened our eyes to some advantages of emu oil that we had never thought of:

  • “It makes my tattoos pop!” Apparently emu oil brightens the colors in tattoos, bringing a new freshness to them.
  • It helps soothe skin during radiation treatments. “ No radiation burn or discomfort. even the radiologist was impressed. “
  • “After using this oil for about 3 days, my eczema flare up was no longer an issue. I had relief from the itching immediately after application of this oil.” It’s soothing for eczema, too.
  • I noticed fine lines disappear.” What a simple, healthy product for avoiding wrinkles.
  • I’ve been using emu oil several times and it somehow ease the pain. It doesn’t give any permanent relief, but for a few hours I can forget about the pain.” Many customers find that emu oil brings relief from pain without having to take pain medications.
  • ” I had a few dark spots and they’re gone.” Age and sun damage can leave dark spots, but many of our customers have seen good results.
  • My rosacea is fading.” We hear from so many people who have found that emu oil helps keep their skin happy!
  • When I apply this consistently as directed 3x a day, I see hair growth in areas that have looked bald for a long time.” Hair growth is another common theme in the comments we receive.

These are individual testimonials from customers, not double-blind clinical studies. But we’re glad to hear from our happy customers, and we hear great new things abut emu oil every ay.

From our customers

We appreciate hearing from our happy customers. Knowing how our natural health and beauty products have made a difference in your life makes our work meaningful. Knowing that you appreciate our dedication to great packaging and fast shipping keeps us motivated to maintain excellence.

The postcard we received from Vivian Martell stood out for us. For one thing, she’s a postal service worker, so we know that she understands packaging and shipping.  She mentioned not only how fast her emu oil order reached her, but also that it was packed perfectly.

“I’m a mail lady for the Postal Service,” she said, “so I know how important that is.”

We think it’s important, too. The speed and quality of our order fulfillment is one of the things we hear about most often from our customers, so we believe that it’s important to you… and now we have confirmation from an expert.

The other thing we most often hear about from our customers? The quality of our products.

Vivian mentioned that, too. “The emu oil is AMAZING– I have been pain free for over 2 weeks.” When you’ve been having to live with pain, getting relief from that pain for two weeks means a lot.”

That’s our mission: to bring you the effective natural products available in New Zealand, so you can benefit from them here in the U.S.

Have you let us impress you yet? We think you’ll be just as pleased as Vivian.