Northland iwi seek govt concessions for beekeeping land

Large international honey companies are making a play for Northland's rugged and untouched terrain, offering Maori financial incentives to beekeep on their land, but iwi leaders want more opportunities for local Maori beekeepers.

Te Rarawa iwi is now seeking concessions from the government to give Maori the first go at bee keeping on Crown land. Source: 1 NEWS

Kaiora Honey is a Maori-owned family business producing up to 50 tonnes of high grade manuka honey.

There are high hopes for the honey industry in the Far North.

A bee-keeping school in Kaitaia is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, a joint venture between iwi Te Rarawa and Lincoln University.

"We're hoping to train up about 200 beekeepers. We think we could have about 20,000 hives in the Far North," said Te Rarawa spokesperson Kevin Robinson.

"We can't produce good beekeepers up here fast enough."

The land is considered ideal for honey-making, and the attraction not lost on big players, forcing smaller businesses like Kaiora Honey to compete.

"The beauty of this place is it's natural and untouched, and that's what we’re having trouble with at the moment with all these foreign and corporate companies coming in to the Northland region," said Kaiora Honey spokesperson Mabel Murray.

"The big honey companies are trying to move in and offer all sorts of opportunities to landowners so that they can tie up that resource," said Mr Robinson.

Te Rarawa iwi is now seeking concessions from the government to give Maori the first go at beekeeping on Crown land.

"It's got the potential to take people of benefits and get them into a meaningful small business of their own," added Mr Robinson.

Investing in a hundred hives can earn a whanau up to $60,000.

"For a 20 to 25+ UMF grade manuka honey, you're almost looking at a dollar a gram.

"For a 500 gram bottle, you’re looking at $500," said Ms Murray.