The Government is co-investing in a $22 million programme aimed at reducing agricultural greenhouse gases and nitrate leaching, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced.
The funding for the project comes from the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge.
The two-year project focuses on prominent native monofloral (single flower nectar) honey – predominantly from kanuka, rata, rewarewa and kamahi – produced by Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa (TPT) beekeeping activities on Department of Conservation areas in the Rotorua region.
The project will analyse examples of honey from across the different geographical regions of the TPT rohe (territory/boundary) to search for specific chemical signatures and potential unique biomarkets.
It will determine the consistency and flavours of honey that consumers prefer, as well as consumer perceptions of Māori values and provenance.
“Honey and honey-related products account for more than $400 million of New Zealand’s export earnings each year,” says project co-lead Aaron McCallion from Waka Digital. “Mānuka honey is the primary honey export, valued for its unique bioactive properties. However, we believe that other native species may also produce honey with great taste and bioactives that will also appeal to consumers.
“Mānuka honey has scientifically-validated properties that consumers will pay a premium for,” says Dr John van Klink, project co-lead from Plant & Food Research.
Combined with advanced consumer insights, the new knowledge gleaned from the project will provide further awareness of the unique properties and consumer value of lesser-kknown honeys, and support the development of new monofloral honeys.
“This investment of over $980,000 from the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge fits well with our objective of supporting industrie with their growth aspirations through the application of science,” says Joanne Todd, challenge director.
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.