Northland beekeepers are believed to be losing millions of dollars from the misclassification of manuka honey, organisers of a honey hui in the Far North say.

A manuka honey hui is being held tomorrow at Otiria marae, Moerewa where honey industry representatives will meet to discuss a number of issues affecting the industry and look at ways of proactively working together.

One of the huge issues facing beekeeping in Northland is the definition of Manuka honey.

Consequently, people are keen to share their concerns, frustrations and possible future pathways relating to the regulatory definition of manuka honey, Pita Tipene, chairman of Ngati Hine Forestry Trust said.

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Led by Taitokerau Miere, a collective of Northland Iwi involved in honey, the aim of the hui is to get government to provide as an interim step, a more industry supportive definition.

Recently, government had modified their science definition in a way that excluded 19 per cent of known manuka honey.

For Northland this excluded up to 50 per cent of the manuka honey crop, he said.
Having high quality manuka honey worth up to $70/kg falsely declared non-manuka by the definition, makes the honey worth as little as $18/kg. The financial losses have resulted in job losses and severe difficulties for most Northland beekeepers and honey companies.

A range of speakers have been organised to address the problems and Ministry for Primary Industries have sent two of their key scientific staff to outline their response. Key notes speakers include John Hill of NZ Manuka Ltd, Terry Braggins from Analytica Laboratories, John Rawcliffe of UMF Association and beekeeping/industry scientists John Craig and Oksana Borowick.

Tipene said the current definition separates and supports the highest quality manuka and actually eliminates some very high quality manuka. He said that the effect has been catastrophic for Tai Tokerau local beekeeping industry.

The hui is at Otiria Marae from 10am.