Great Farming Stories

Hitiri Turner - Manuka Health

15 February 2019

Hitiri Turner - Manuka Health

Great ideas have humble beginnings; they blossom thanks to vision and dedication and mature with the right alchemy of hard work, tenacity, futureproofing and innovation.

The success of Manuka Health attests to this. Founded in 2006 out of a small shed, this profitable business has grown significantly since inception and today employees 140 people working in a range of positions. Apiary sites are spread across the North Island and all product migrates through the Carterton extraction facility before being sent to the production centre in Te Awamutu where production, packaging and export takes place. The head office is based in Auckland.

A state-of-the-art extraction facility in Carterton processes the national manuka and propolis harvests. Employing 15 beekeepers, four permanent staff and 3-6 seasonal staff, Manuka Health Carterton prides itself on providing opportunity. A local apprenticeship scheme to train new beekeepers ensures a base of strong knowledge and expertise. 

Hitiri Turner manages the extraction operations at Manuka Health Carterton. Hitiri studied apiculture through Lincoln University and apprenticed under apiary managers with 20 years’ experience.

Running approximately 8000 hives in the Wairarapa and 27,000 hives nationwide, the plant processed 380 tonnes of manuka honey in the previous season. The honey produced by Manuka Health is traceable from source for every jar of honey produced. A large output of propolis is also used in healthcare products and the company is looking at investing in clinical trials to develop propolis based medicines.

Biosecurity is taken very seriously and hives are actively checked for American Foul Brood (AFB). If a hive is found with the disease it will be terminated immediately. All beekeepers are required to complete their Disease Elimination Conformity Agreement (DECA) certificate which allows them to check and sign-off hives for AFB. The company’s Varroa Control Programme  uses a range of control measures with a push towards using organics. There is also a focus around using treatments which are biodegradable.

With a goal of building a company held in high regard within the apiculture industry, and to build more partnerships with local communities to encourage native planting and grow local skilled workers, there is a great journey ahead to reach the ultimate goal. The extraction facility within the plant is aiming to double its capacity within the next year.

Of entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards Hitiri says, “We entered the awards because we are a strong influence in our industry and we strive for excellence in all we do.”