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Ed Sheeran

Honey producers ready to sting Aussies
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A group fighting to keep the name manuka honey for the New Zealand product is confident it’s ready for an international legal fight.

The Manuka Charitable Trust’s operating arm Te Pitau has been holding hui around the country to bring iwi and honey producers up to date on what it has been doing with a $6 million fighting fund from the Provincial Grown Fund.

Chair Victor Goldsmith says it has a hearing this month with the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office to argue for Māori ownership to the word manuka, and then it takes on Australian producers in a case in the United Kingdom.

He says New Zealand manuka honey exports are now worth $420 million because of the investment producers have put into researching and marketing its unique scientific properties, but Australian apiarists are undercutting that with relabelled jelly bush honey.

"The consumer doesn't know the difference between Australian manuka honey and New Zealand manuka honey because they are just looking at the price. When you have the taste and when you look at the Australian honey it doesn't compare to what we have in New Zealand, and just by changing the name from jelly bush to manuka honey they believe they can ride the coattails of our success," he says.

Mr Goldsmith says rather than take a Māori word, Australian producers should work with their own indigenous people to come up with a name for their honey – and do the research to establish its selling point.

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