Honey maker Raphael Knopf has settled in Rata just south of Hunterville but his business centre is now in the Hunterville village.

"We are expanding very fast and need [access to the] main information office.''

He left his native Broye in canton Fribourg, Switzerland 15 years ago and has found an ideal and great happiness in New Zealand, he said.

He cultivates organic honey in harmony with around 8000 hives throughout the Rangitikei, Taranaki, and the Hawke's Bay.


He left Switzerland initially in 2002 after completing two certificates of professional competence and his military service.

His plan then was to go to Nepal to help build a hydro dam.

"But a civil war in Nepal was raging at that time, it was not possible. My second choice was to go to Australia, then New Zealand. I really wanted space, adventure, and to discover new things."

One of the huge pleasures in his life now apart from his honey business is his loved bush block up the Waitotara Valley.

"It is isolated and very beautiful.''

He co-directs his company Knopfhoney Ltd with his father Jean-Baptiste.

"I'm a beekeeper, farmer, and excavator driver. We employ 22 beekeepers, and we do everything from A to Z: building the hives, producing the Manuka honey, sales, etc. From this year, we are very proud to use only organic treatments against varroa [a parasitic mite that attacks bees]."

Raphael said he always gets up in the morning with positive energy and a thirst for success.

He ensures Knopfhoney Ltd frequently supports many local clubs in the Hunterville area.

"We are very happy to be able to promote our community for the next generation."

The only downside is the difficulties they have in finding suitable workers, he said.

"We need workers willing to turn up and work in the area which is not always easy.''