We’re stoked to announce that we have won awards in the Outstanding Food Producers Awards in 2021. I’m Brenda Tahi, CEO of Manawa Honey NZ and I want to share with you some of the background on these awards and why we entered the competition this year.
In this news item we will cover:
These awards were established in 2017 and the aim is to find New Zealand’s Outstanding Food Producers. The awards celebrate Kiwis who harvest, grow and make food and drinks.
In about April each year, a team of specialist judges assesses around 200 products for these awards. The best products are awarded an Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards Gold, Silver or Bronze Medal. In essence these awards are an independent endorsement of quality.
There are 5 categories for the awards – Dairy, Paddock, Earth, Drink and Water. Each year, one producer creating benchmark goods of exceptional quality is named Supreme Champion of Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Awards. The Supreme Champion is chosen from the Champions of the five categories. Additionally, Special Awards and People’s Choice Awards are awarded.
These awards are designed for all producers that choose to enter. The award organisers say: “Whether you’re a small producer, a large producer or grower with an established brand, if you have a product or products that you are proud of, we want to celebrate your endeavour!”
We know that the honey we produce is top quality because we carefully manage all that’s involved in the production process – from the places that we choose for our apiaries to how we present our honey in the jar.
But there’s nothing like getting some assurance on the quality of our honey from an independent and expert source of food assessment. This is exactly what food and honey awards and competitions are all about.
So, from time to time in the past, we have thought about entering award competitions to see:
- how our honeys fare
- how our honeys are perceived by experts in look, taste and texture
- what feedback we can gain that can help us in improving our honey products.
We’ve held off a bit on doing this in the past – a bit shy to put ourselves out there. Our old people say:
“Kāre te kūmara e kōrero mō tana reka (A sweet potato doesn’t boast about how sweet it is)!”
So, sometimes these tikanga (traditional values) hold us back in promoting our business, but in this case, we thought that this is for others to assess, so why not.
So it is that in 2021, we decided to enter all of our honeys in these awards – Mānuka MG100+, Rewarewa, Tāwari and Pua-ā-Tāne Wild Forest Honey.
Completing the entry forms for these awards was no mean feat. There’s a lot of information that they seek in order to get to know you as a food producer. In telling our story and showcasing our products we covered a lot of ground in addressing all the points of the entry form.
Apart from the details of our business and our products, there’s four main sections to complete:
- Brand Story/Originality: Here we explained who we are, where we come from, why we founded Manawa Honey NZ and what drives us as a business.
- Environmental Considerations: We set out here the ecological reasons for keeping bees in our region; our practices for sustainability and looking after our environment; and our contribution to forest restoration and regeneration.
- Social Considerations: We explained here the social and cultural contributions we make through our business, across our community here in Ruatahuna, and further afield.
- Other Considerations: We explained here how we had not sought recognition through awards for many of the things we do and the way we do them, but that we had entered business awards in 2018 to gain external assurance on our business overall.
So we put our samples and our story and explanations before the judges back in February 2021 and then awaited the outcome…
Well, we were thrilled to receive notice in May 2021 that we had won 2 Gold Awards – one for Mānuka MG100+ Honey and another for our Tāwari Honey. Our Rewarewa Honey was awarded Silver and our Pua-ā-Tāne Wild Forest Honey was awarded Bronze.
The judges for these awards also gave us their comments from their assessment of our honeys, which we were generally thrilled with. We totally agree with their assessment of the Gold Medal winners – Mānuka MG100+ Honey and Tāwari Honey. Couldn’t agree more!
But I have to say that it did cross my mind to debate the comment on our Rewarewa and Pua-ā-Tāne Wild Forest Honeys, as we know these honeys are such favourites of our whanau and so many of our customers. Lol! Decided instead it’s good to be humble and just be grateful for what we have got…
So here’s the results for our entries to these awards, with judges’ comments unabridged…
The judges also commented on the sustainability and brand story of Manawa Honey NZ:
“Strong on environment – consideration of biodiversity, reuse, packaging, energy, transport. Very strong on social – cultural, employment, nutrition all considered.
You scored well for your brand story and marketing.”
This feedback we certainly appreciate, but we know at the same time there is more that we can do in supporting our people and enhancing our environment. These are areas that we will continue to develop as we go forward with Manawa Honey NZ, as this was precisely why we set up this business in the first place.
Well we certainly benefited from entering these awards. It made us think about our business not just in terms of our honey products, but beyond, to the kaupapa of our founder the Tuhoe Tuawhenua Trust. We reflected on our ‘why’; our commitment to environmental sustainability practices; and our contribution to our people and to our forests and land.
In the future, there will be more award competitions for business, for food and for honey specifically. Where we can, we’ll be keen to enter in order to gain assessment by the experts in their field. Then we can learn from these experiences and we can keep challenging ourselves to lift what we do and what we produce.
Always keen to hear what you think about our journey with this business Manawa Honey NZ, but also any comments you might have in terms of award competitions in general, or your experience with this kind of thing. So please, do not hesitate to comment below!
Nga mihi ano ra…