Monofloral native honeys

Public Summary

Principal investigators: Aaron McCallion (Co-PI) Waka Digital, and ​​John van Klink, Plant and Food Research
Industry partners: Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa Trust


Aotearoa’s monofloral honeys: science creating value 

Honey and honey-related products account for more than $400 million of New Zealand’s export earnings each year. Much of this economic activity comes from sales of mānuka honey, valued by consumers for its unique, evidence-based bioactive properties.

However, other native New Zealand honeys aren’t attracting the same premium price position as the mānuka variant, with little known about their composition, variation and potential bioactive properties. 

In this project we address the lack of scientifically-validated factors that differentiate some of our other important, but lesser-known, native honeys. 

A focus on native New Zealand single flower nectar honey

Our focus is on prominent native monofloral (single flower nectar) honey in the Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa (TPT) trust’s Department of Conservation concessions areas, namely kānuka, rata, rewarewa and kāmahi. 

An important emphasis of this project is to determine the consistency and flavours of honey that consumers prefer. This will take into account consumer perceptions of Māori values and provenance, with respect to flavour and health potential. It will also include an analysis of consumer demographic, psychographic and personal values. 

The project will analyse examples of honeys from across the different geographical regions of the TPT rohe (territory/boundary) to search for specific chemical signatures and potential unique biomarkers.

Increasing awareness of our different honeys

Measuring the biochemical features of monofloral honey within a given location will provide a better understanding of honey variants. This is because honey differs between regions of origin and the source of its nectar.

Combined with advanced consumer insights, the new knowledge gleaned from the project will provide further awareness of the unique properties and consumer value of our lesser-known honeys.

The studies will contribute information that informs the apiculture (bee keeping) industry of the relative benefits of focussing investment and communication strategies on provenance, sustainability and health, and the extent to which the unique flavours exist, are consistent, and valued by consumers.

Driving economic growth

This new knowledge will increase the economic value of New Zealand monofloral honey. This will, in turn, incentivise Tangata Whenua, the Crown, landowners and land managers to apply kaitiakitanga (guardianship) principles to the indigenous ecosystems that support monofloral honey supply for high-value nutritional food-based products.

The project brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts and scientists from Te Arawa and other iwi/hapu entities, Plant & Food Research, AgResearch, Massey University and Apiculture NZ to employ a collaborative bicultural approach.

Research Team

Aaron McCallion

John van Klink