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Liquid gold: the honey that's helping to boost biodiversity in New Zealand

Each year, New Zealand produces between 15,000 and 20,000 tonnes of honey, exporting it to around 40 countries around the world. And while there are thousands of producers in New Zealand harvesting this prized condiment, eco-minded customers look to Tahi.

Suzan Craig founded Tahi in 2004, transforming a neglected and rundown cattle farm on New Zealand’s North Island into a thriving nature sanctuary.

Photograph by Tahi
By Tahi
Published 31 Dec 2021, 12:00 GMT, Updated 25 Jan 2022, 11:44 GMT

Who?
Tahi, a honey brand with sustainability at its core. The company’s main mission is to ensure profits go back into conservation and community projects.

How long has it been around for?
A good 17 years and counting. Eco-preneur Suzan Craig, who comes from a four-generation family of beekeepers, founded Tahi in 2004, transforming a neglected and rundown cattle farm on New Zealand’s North Island into a thriving nature sanctuary.

A sanctuary, you say?
Yes. Over the past few years, the Tahi team has restored 15 wetlands and planted over 430,000 indigenous trees. Since its inception, the company has worked closely with scientists, and after 16 years of research and monitoring, has developed a research-based methodology, the Biodiversity Value Index (BVI).

How exactly does this work?
Basically, BVI allocates both a carbon and biodiversity value to individual plant species, to highlight how they benefit a given ecosystem. Tahi then uses these values to measure the environmental impact of its restoration work and also as a tool in other ecosystem recovery projects. At present, climate change and biodiversity loss are generally assessed separately, and carbon offsets tend to derive from monocrop plantations of foreign species, such as pine and palm. BVI, however, quantifies carbon sequestration and the impact on biodiversity as a whole. And Tahi’s efforts have clearly paid off: today, there are 71 bird species within the sanctuary (up from just 14 in 2003) — more than what you’ll find in many of New Zealand’s national parks. 

Can I spend time there?
Absolutely. The sanctuary also doubles as a relaxing eco-retreat, with two beautifully furnished bungalows and a cosy beach cottage for rent. Here, visitors can hike, swim, surf, kayak, birdwatch and, of course, taste some of Tahi’s finest honey.

Ah yes, the honey. What makes it so special?
For starters, Tahi’s honey is eco-friendly, carbon negative and biodiversity positive. It’s collected from bees that feed on the nectar of wild manuka flowers, and is entirely produced and packaged by Tahi. Each of their products is made without any added sugar and water, and contains no pesticides. As the company claims, its honey is produced ‘as nature intended’ — and it has a whole host of sustainability awards to show for it. 

Tahi’s honey has a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating of up to 23+, which means it’s one of the purest and most authentic manuka honeys you can get.

Photograph by Tahi

Oh, what awards?
In 2020, the New Zealand Sustainable Business Network honoured Tahi with the Supreme Award: NZI Transforming New Zealand for its conservation efforts as well as the Restoring Nature Award for its leadership role in restoring the country's nature. Tahi also clinched four gold medals at the 2020 London Honey Quality Awards. In 2020, Luxury Lifestyle Awards named Tahi’s honey as the Best Luxury Honey in the World, and in November 2021, they received the Restoring Nature Award at the Sustainable Business Awards once again, but this time for their BVI methodology. 

Impressive. And how does the honey taste?
Sweet yet mild, with a delectably creamy mouthfeel — a distinctive taste and texture profile attributed to the sanctuary’s warm, subtropical climate.

Why isn’t it clear and runny like regular honey, though?
Indeed, Tahi’s honey looks different to what you’ll typically find on supermarket shelves. This is because common commercial honey is aggressively filtered to remove all pollen and microscopic particles, which damages its natural composition — and the folks at Tahi certainly don’t want that. In fact, Tahi’s honey has a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating of up to 23+, which means it’s one of the purest and most authentic manuka honeys you can get.

UMF? What’s that?
UMF is a globally recognised grading system that appraises the signature compounds found in manuka honey, such as methylgloxal, which has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. In short, the higher a honey’s UMF rating, the better. 

Where can I get my hands on a jar?
Simply make a beeline for any of its UK stockists, which include Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges in London. Or, if you're travelling in New Zealand, visit the brand’s shop and retreat in Whangārei, which is a three-hour drive from Auckland.

Read more about Tahi’s founder Suzan Craig here.

For more information on Tahi and to book a visit, head to tahinz.com

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