Based in Kaitaia, Tai Tokerau Honey is a 100 percent Maori-owned and operated company specialising in the production of Manuka Honey. Twyla MacDonald spoke with the team about slowly expanding distribution overseas and working on added value products.

What is your company background, how did you start the business?

"We are based in Ahipara in the Far North of New Zealand and specialise in the production of Manuka Honey. After spending three years working for a large commercial company, in 2009 our director and founder Rob Murray decided it was time to go solo, and with the support of his wife Lohnet, a primary school teacher, and 300 hives, Tai Tokerau Honey Ltd was born."

What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?

"We specialise in the production of UMF Manuka Honey. Our honey is as pure and as natural as it can get and we pride ourselves on maintaining happy, healthy bees. As we are only just starting to move into the marketing side of the business, our honey is currently sold as a food item in 250g or 500g jars. However we now have a small, consistent market into Japan, and we are slowly working on expanding our distribution overseas. We are also working on some added value products such as lozenges, lip balms and gel capsules that we hope to launch early next year."

Has there been any recent company news?

"Not that we can reveal yet but if you stay tuned on our website, Facebook and Twitter, as we start gearing up for the new season updates will be posted."

What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?

"We are aiming to develop our brand’s presence in our target overseas markets, as well as work on some domestic outlets. However, those looking to purchase our products in New Zealand can do so through our website www.taitokerauhoney.co.nz.

Back on the ground, we are working towards a 10,000 hive operation, and we work closely with landowners, land trusts and iwi to ensure it will be a sustainable enterprise. We are also hoping that by the time we reach 10,000 hives we will be operating our own extraction and product packing facilities."

Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?

"Our UMF Manuka Honey is currently only available locally at the florist, Essentially Flowers in Kaitaia, the Mana Kai shop in Awanui and will be available from October at the Waitiki gift shop near Cape Reinga. It comes in a range of grades, and in 250g and 500g jars. There is also the option of a gift box of two 250g jars in your choice of grades. We also have gift packs of six 25g pottles of New Zealand honey, and the Honey Droplet lozenge will be available soon. Yes, we would like to expand the availability of our product within New Zealand, however being a high-end food product it does not sit well in the supermarket so we would prefer to distribute through boutique stores."TaiTokerauHoney