Pathways to Transition

A Foundation of Values Underpins Te Taiao

Manawa Honey shared its special insight into creating value chains to benefit te Taiao with the Revitalise Te Taiao research programme.

Manawa Honey is from deep in Te Urewera forest Ruatahuna, Te Manawa o te Ika-a-Maui. Photo: Manawa Honey

Everyone involved in the Revitalise te Taiao research programme was honoured to have internationally acclaimed Manawa Honey (awarded the world’s best-tasting honey) CEO Brenda Tahi and marketing executive Karioi Ki Tahuaroa White as special guest speakers at a wānanga dedicated to Value Chain & Market.  

“Te Taiao plays a big part in what we do as a people and what we do as an individual. The values we bring is Te Mauri o Te Ngāhere [forest lifeforce],” said Karioi Ki Tahuaroa White.

Revitalise te Taiao is focusing on value chains and markets with te Taiao central to the kaupapa. The wānanga in Wānaka provided Ngā Kaiurungi Taiao (the three place-based pilots: Te Kahui Rau, Rere ki Uta Rere ki Tai and Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao) with an insightful opportunity to listen and learn about what it truly means to uphold values in business, and how you can design and develop your own value chain.

Manawa Honey’s rewarewa won the Grand First Prize in the 10th Black Jar International Honey Tasting Contest held in Asheville, USA 2021. Photo: Manawa Honey

Tūturutanga (authenticity) and tikanga (values) are foundational to Manawa Honey’s value chain, located deep in the heart of Te Urewera indigenous forests, homeland of the tribe of Tūhoe. The provenance of te Taiao, forests, soil, climate, and diversity of vegetation is the magic blend of Manawa Honey’s liquid gold. 

CEO Brenda Tahi said: “We are a Tuawhenua Trust responsible for 9000 ha of whenua; 25 blocks in Ruatahuna; we have nine hapū and nine marae.  We decided that as a trust we had to be more than just a kaitiaki. There were no jobs in Ruatahuna, and the standard of living and quality of life had really declined because there were no opportunities to develop.

“We had to seriously try to do something. We wanted to reconnect with our forest. The honey thing gave us a connection to the bush.”

Manawa Honey Ruatahuna. Photo: Manawa Honey

“Our first crop of honey in 2013 was māhoe honey which we have never gotten since,” said Brenda Tahi. “We were so proud of ourselves that we had produced a whole two tonnes. When we put it to the industry we couldn’t find anyone that would buy it. No one would appreciate it being from Te Urewera. No one was interested that we were an indigenous company. The whole story didn't mean a thing. So I said, ‘Okay, I’m not selling this honey'.” 

Value Chain 4
Manawa Honey CEO Brenda Tahi and marketing executive Karioi Ki Tahuaroa White. Photo credit Manawa Honey

Brenda and the whānau knew the value of their honey, they just needed the world to taste and see it as they did. Te Taiao (environment/nature) continued to refine their honey and craft their story. 

In 2021, Manawa Honey’s Rewarewa won the Grand First Prize in the 10th Black Jar International Honey Tasting Contest held in Asheville, USA. Manawa Honey is now labeled the world’s best-tasting honey. 

Manawa Honey CEO Brenda Tahi presents at Revitalise te Taiao Value Chain & Market wānaga in Wānaka

Māori entrepreneur, indigenous business guru, and Revitalise te Taiao co-lead Richard Te Hurinui Jones says, “My focus is to really drive this value chain and market components. Making something more tangible and real as we move towards the end of the programme.”

Other guest speakers included Professor Paul Dalziel who presented on successful food and fibre value chains. Moving from financial value to shared values, supply chain to a value chain requires thinking about your business, the products you offer, and how this will provide value for the final consumer. 

Patagonia ambassador to Aotearoa, Dane O’Shanassy, presented how billionaire Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard built a business empire by sticking to his values (a billionaire no more after he relinquished his family fortune to fund global efforts to combat climate change). 

Rere ki Uta Rere ki Tai team present at Revitalise te Taiao Value Chain & Market wānanga in Wānaka

The Revitalise te Taiao whānau shared what inspired them the most about the Value Chain & Market wānanga and how they will move forward:

“Hearing some of the cool stories in the region and how they have used their values to become global brands is so truly inspirational. Just shows what we can do if you have the right values in place.” – Rere ki Uta Rere ki Tai, Dr Ashna Khan (Project Lead)

“Manawa Honey Te Urewera is a beautiful story. Real grassroots level businesses pākihi Māori staying tūturu to their identity to their values systems has made me feel more at ease knowing we are going in the right direction.” – Te Kahui Rau, Te Raumahora Hema (Mātauranga Māori Lead)

“As I listened to Brenda, I was really inspired by what they are doing in Te Urewera. I really feel our kaupapa is very similar and it was almost a validation that we are on the right pathway and that our values are at the forefront of everything we do. To be able to socialise our latest initiative and thinking, our vision with the likes of Brenda and Paul Dalziel, it is great to get positive feedback, questions and provide that external validation and view of what we are doing.” – Te Kahui Rau, Bry Kopu (Co-Lead)

Te Kahui Rau present at Revitalise te Taiao Value Chain & wānanga in Wānaka

“The korero that Brenda brought was the one that struck me the most. Personally, I’m struggling with the idea of customer and provider or producer. The transactional relationship that those terms mean. The thing I really loved about Brenda was that they were returning water to the well. So many times with our mātauranga it is drawing from the well and the well is exhausted. We need to remember to return some water to put something back into the well to make sure that the spring is actually strong.” – Te Kahui Rau, Glen Skipper (Co-lead)

“The Tuawhenua Trust at the heart of Manawa Honey is amazing with how their approach to the future. They are realistic about what they want to do and how they want to achieve it and put some pūtea in the communities’ pockets. Manawa Honey, as Brenda said in her korero, Manawa the heart of Tuhoe, the heart of Te Ika-a-Maui, and you just feel it is such a beautiful thing.” – Simon Stokes, Revitalise te Taiao Co-Lead

“Hearing new perspectives, new voices around the value chains and markets having Brenda Tahi, Paul Dalziel opening up the space thinking about what we are doing and how that connects with consumers and how we connect with consumers and how we connect with that desire to revitalize Te Taiao.” – Dr James Turner, Revitalise te Taiao Co-Lead

“I enjoyed Professor Paul Dalziel’s korero, nine attributes of success for value chains all the richness of the work. When I looked at those nine attributes I thought this is not really us, it is going to be hard for us. But once Paul talked about all the mahi that is done behind the nine attributes and the incorporation of aspects of mātauranga Māori, te ao Māori view then I got a better understanding of how we can link in with the nine attributes, so that was really cool.” – Richard Te Hurinui Jones, Revitalise te Taiao Co-Lead

Emerging young Māori marketing executive of Manawa Honey, Karioi Ki Tahuaroa White, offered some advice. She has assisted in every step of the value chain and market to see the Manawa Honey business become awarded the best-tasting honey in the world.  Karioi strongly believes that rangatahi (youth) have a valuable contribution to revitalising Te Taiao because they are the future. “When it comes to value chains and markets you need to know what you stand for to be tūturu (authentic) and always uphold your values. I understand the whole value chain from the producer to the consumer; keeping that value maintained throughout the whole process.  

“As rangatahi, we are the next generation being able to welcome more rangatahi into this space to communicate with researchers with organisations that are doing all these amazing things being able to have a voice and speak up.”


Renee Kahukura Iosefa

Renee Kahukura Iosefa (Kia Ora Media Marketing & PR) is the communications and engagement lead for the Reviatlise Te Taiao research programme

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