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“Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Mānuka Honey: The Fight for Trademarking Continues”


The fight by Māori honey producers to reserve the term mānuka honey for certified New Zealand-produced honey will continue, despite a recent setback. The New Zealand Intellectual Property Office has ruled that the term mānuka cannot be trademarked, siding with Australian producers. However, the Mānuka Charitable Trust is considering whether to appeal the decision or explore alternative strategies.

The Argument for Trademarking Mānuka Honey

The Mānuka Charitable Trust argues that mānuka is a Māori word with deep cultural significance in Aotearoa New Zealand. They believe that the term should be exclusively used for honey produced from mānuka trees in New Zealand. Trademarking mānuka honey would help protect the authenticity and quality of New Zealand-produced honey, as well as acknowledge the cultural heritage associated with the term.

The Role of the Intellectual Property Office

The recent decision by the Intellectual Property Office has raised concerns about the protection of Māori indigenous taonga, or treasures. Critics argue that the decision disregards the cultural significance of mānuka and fails to adequately safeguard Māori intellectual property rights. They believe that the Office should be reformed in accordance with the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal WAI 262 Report.

Exploring Alternatives

In light of the ruling, the Mānuka Charitable Trust is considering their next steps. One option is to appeal the decision and present additional evidence to support their case. Another possibility is to explore alternative legal strategies to protect the term mānuka honey and ensure its exclusive use for New Zealand-produced honey.


The battle to reserve the term mānuka honey for certified New Zealand-produced honey is far from over. Despite the recent setback, the Mānuka Charitable Trust remains committed to protecting the cultural significance of mānuka and promoting the authenticity of New Zealand honey. They are considering their options and will continue to advocate for the recognition and preservation of Māori intellectual property rights.

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Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.

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