Politics / Country

Australian 'manuka' honey producers get government support

16:39 pm on 26 September 2019

Australia's Minister of Agriculture has publicly backed the country's honey producers after they sought help in the legal battle with over mānuka honey labelling.

A billboard at Melbourne Airport celebrating mānuka honey as Australian-made. Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

New Zealand apiarists have long accused Australian companies of stealing New Zealand intellectual property by calling their output "manuka honey". Mānuka is a Māori word, referring to the New Zealand native tree.

The Manuka Honey Appellation Society has spent more than $2 million in legal fees seeking trademark recognition for New Zealand mānuka honey in China, the US, EU, UK and at home in New Zealand.

The government announced yesterday its Provincial Growth Fund would put another $5.7m - including a $1.7m loan - towards legal and other costs.

That led Australian growers to seek help from their own Federal Government to combat the actions of Wellington.

Australian Minister of Agriculture Bridget McKenzie was quoted in media as saying she would be seeking clarification from the New Zealand government.

She further pledged support in a short statement to RNZ.

"The Minister for Agriculture will continue to back Australian Manuka Honey producers in every way possible, and continue to push for increased market access for their high-quality, safe, sustainable and nutritious honey around the globe," the statement said.

The statement gave no details about this would be done in practical terms.