Date Published: 2 Dec, 2021
New Zealand depends on its reputation to thrive in key export markets. So being able to authenticate and promote product origin gives New Zealand businesses real advantages in markets where provenance matters for consumers. The FernMark Licence Programme is designed to promote and protect New Zealand products and services on a global scale.
The FernMark Licence Programme is managed by the New Zealand Story Group, which exists to provide ‘tools, skills and knowledge to help businesses communicate their stories about New Zealand to shift perceptions, open doors and hopefully grow opportunities’. The FernMark Licence Programme is their initiative designed specifically to enhance New Zealand’s international reputation.
There are hundreds of licensees carrying the FernMark on over 1 billion products on shelves around the world, and we’re thrilled to announce that we are joining this company, with the recent approval of Manawa Honey NZ as a New Zealand FernMark Licensee.
In a number of ways, the FernMark is key in promoting trust and authenticity in New Zealand products beyond our borders. The FernMark is designed to represent New Zealand on the world stage as a collective and in a sense to bring consumers on a journey to our shores through our New Zealand Story.
Globally there has been an overwhelming focus on where products, especially food products, come from. Customer also want to know how products are produced in terms of environmental and social impacts. New Zealand is in a great position when it comes to environmentally-conscious consumers, as we start with a ‘clean and green image’.
The FernMark symbol carries important values including kaitiaki which is all about the care of people, place and planet. So, the FernMark leverages on the overall brand of New Zealand Inc, and that’s good for us as Manawa Honey NZ.
Consumers are also wanting to know the story behind the product. The FernMark helps manage the way in which New Zealand and products from New Zealand are perceived outside our borders. The FernMark represents the story of who we are as Aotearoa New Zealand and where we’re from. It’s a symbol not just designed for people to recognise and trust as genuinely coming from New Zealand, but also to impart our values as a nation.
More and more people around the world are also concerned about the authenticity of a product. This is one of the key reasons for the development of the FernMark as a trademark officially recognised and endorsed by the New Zealand Government. It’s a mark of trust developed for exporters that communicates a product’s country of origin and connection to New Zealand.
When customers hover their smartphones over the FernMark, they’ll be able to use an app to verify the authenticity of the product’s association to the FernMark Licence Programme and will be shown a short video that explains the story of New Zealand and what makes us unique.
It would come as no surprise that, as consumer demand for trusted products increases, so too do the efforts of non-licence holders to capitalise on the FernMark’s great reputation and brand value. So, to protect the FernMark as our national symbol, trademark protection has been gained in 23 countries across a number of classes of goods and services. This trademarking provides a high level of protection in key export markets including Australia, Europe, China, Japan, US and the UK.
Additionally, the FernMark logo is embedded with augmented reality capabilities which not only gives consumers access to content about New Zealand, but also, because it cannot be copied, it provides an additiona signature of authenticity.
It’s heartening to know that the FernMark Licence Programme team also operates a global trademark watch programme to detect misuse of the FernMark around the world. This programme of trademark monitoring keeps misuse of the FernMark in check. These protection mechanisms are important so that when a customer sees the FernMark on a product, they can be sure that it’s an authentic New Zealand product.
Here’s our FernMark Licence – number 100653. In order to gain the licence to use the FernMark, we were required to meet a number of criteria. First, an applicant business has to be ‘connected to New Zealand from a financial, regulatory, governance and personnel perspective’.
Secondly, the products must meet minimum requirements for being made, grown or designed in New Zealand.
Manawa Honey NZ is registered for business in New Zealand and is owned and governed by the Tūhoe Tuawhenua Trust of Ruatāhuna, so we are NZ-owned and operated. All of our employees are in or from Ruatāhuna, and are all New Zealanders. So, there’s no doubt that we are totally a New Zealand business.
All our honey is harvested in New Zealand, and our products are designed and made in New Zealand. So, the criterion for New Zealand-made is easily met by our products. It was rewarding for us to find that meeting all these requirements then qualified Manawa Honey NZ to receive a FernMark licence.
The silver fern is a species of medium-sized tree fern, which is endemic to New Zealand. The fern is easily recognisable by the silver-white colour of the under-surface of its fronds.
It is no surprise that the Silver Fern was chosen by the Government for the trademark for New Zealand in international markets, and the FernMark programme. The Silver Fern is recognised as one of New Zealand’s long-standing national symbols.
Since the late 19th Century, the silver fern has been worn with pride by our sports teams and with great honour by our soldiers and others representing our country all over the world.
In days of yore, our ancestors would use the silver underside of the fern leaves as a marker to find their way when they were moving through our dense native forests. When bent over, the fronds of the silver fern catch the moonlight, or stand out easily in the dark under-cover shade, to show the path to take through the forest. Simple, resourceful, effective.
We’re familiar with this sign-posting at Manawa Honey. Most of us are also hunters or forest travellers (when we’re not tending bees or selling honey), and we still use the silver fern, bent silver side up, to show the way for those coming behind us in the bush or to mark the way home. Thus, through the silver fern, we give direction, we give guidance and we show that we care.
So, for Manawa Honey, here in Ruatāhuna, as a forest living people, with our traditional use of the silver fern that continues to this day, the meaning of the silver fern cuts deep – it represents direction and inclusion, bringing all along with us, with care and with respect.
Additionally, for us at Manawa Honey, the silver fern reflects the kaupapa (philosophy or raison d’etre) of our founders, the Tūhoe Tuawhenua Trust. This Trust is responsible for 9000ha of mountainous bush-clad terrain in the heart of the region of Te Urewera. Most of our people have been dislocated, and our indigenous forests impacted by logging and introduced pests. We’re dedicated to sustaining the vitality and wellbeing of our people, our forest, our land. The silver fern, a tohu or symbol of exactly this.
At another level, like all FernMark licence holders, the silver fern is an icon for our national identity, signalling our country’s values of guardianship, integrity, and ingenuity. And, on the front for marketing our honey overseas, the FernMark immediately connects our brand Manawa to Aotearoa New Zealand, and all that this entails.
From here on, we will be introducing our FernMark to the labelling of our products and into the material explaining our business and what we stand for.
Carrying the FernMark on our products, together with a unique Licence number, makes it easy for consumers to verify the authenticity of our products. Customers know that they can trust that our products are genuinely made in New Zealand. The FernMark also signals for customers that our products have gained a government ‘tick of approval’, adding an additional layer of credibility and strengthening consumer confidence in our products.
Beyond this, through the FernMark, we join a community of New Zealand businesses that are taking New Zealand stories to the world. So, this is not just about us, it’s about collective storytelling as a country. We’re now part of a wider movement to build consumer confidence and drive preference for New Zealand products and services around the world.
Thus, through the FernMark, we’ve now become an ambassador for our country, Aotearoa New Zealand, in an international setting. For Manawa Honey, it’s a terrific privilege for us to be able to do this.
|Brenda Tahi draws on a range of areas in her diverse experience for her writing. She has an MBA in Strategic Management from Henley College (UK) and has had careers in public sector management and governance in New Zealand. Brenda has also published research in topics ranging from public sector management policy to Māori history and traditional knowledge. Brenda is a trustee for the Tuawhenua Trust of Ruatāhuna, and, drawing on her hobby beekeeping, she was part of founding Manawa Honey NZ, of which she is now CEO.|