Manuka Honey

The History of Australian Manuka

The word Manuka has a long history of use in Australia since European settlement, and has been used for naming places, property and of course the plant. We hope you enjoy learning the history of the word Manuka in Australia, dating back to 1880!

At Capilano, we are proud to pack authentic Australian Manuka honey and are committed to fighting for our industry’s right to market Australia’s high quality, potent, great tasting Manuka honey globally.

Australian Manuka Chronology

Below is a brief chronology of Australian Manuka, compiled by The Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) that we were proud to provide key information for.

1882 Tasmanian government House of Assembly report describes Manuka trees, first recorded evidence of the name Manuka being used to describe Leptospermum plants.

1884 Tasmanian maps refer to regions of “low Manuka and Tea Tree scrub”. The Launceston Examiner includes articles in 1884 and 1885 describing the Tasmanian landscape of ‘Manuka’ plants.

1897 Sheffield Honey Farm is established, as one of Tasmania’s oldest working apiaries, producing Manuka honey.

1913 Australia’s capital, Canberra, was founded in 1913 and it has an original suburb named Manuka after the plant native to Australia and New Zealand (NZ). Within this suburb, Manuka Oval has a rich and diverse history starting back as early as the 1920’s. In 1962, the Bradman pavilion was constructed at Manuka oval and named in honour of the great cricketer, Don Bradman, who first played at Manuka oval against Mailers ‘Bohemians’.

1920  Generations of children have used Manuka bushes to build cubby houses in the remote region of Blue Hills in Tasmania. In fact, there is a government managed campground in Tasmania operated by Parks and Wildlife Tasmania known as the ‘Manuka Campground’, in addition to roads named after the Manuka tree, such as Manuka Drive in Smithton, Tasmania.

1922 Publication by F R Beuhne called ‘Honey Flora of Victoria’ refers to Leptospermum as Manuka.

1927 The Adelaide Chronicle newspaper describes Manuka honey produced in South Australia.

1935 In 1935 and 1937, The Adelaide Chronicle newspaper is a rural interest column refers to the extraction of ‘Manuka honey’ and ‘tainted in flavour…honey from Manuka’.

1938 South Australian Border Chronicle reports on development in bee-farming and Manuka honey production.

1947 The Mercury magazine in Tasmania describes Manuka scrub.

1976 Even though the name was gazetted on the 10 March 1976, the Tasmanian Nomenclature Board was established in 1953 as a statutory body to assign the names of places in Tasmania, which included naming the Manuka Creek. Background notes state: Manuka as being a “word for a small tree with aromatic leaves which are sometimes used for tea, native to New Zealand and Tasmania. Leptospermum scoparium, family Myrtaceae.” Articles from 1888 to 1900 from Australian newspapers refer to ‘Manuka Creek’ or ‘Manuka Rivulet’ in Tasmania.

1980 Publication of Forestry Commission of New South Wales (NSW) of ‘Trees and shrubs of Eastern Australia’ refers to the common name of “Manuka Tea Tree” for Leptospermum.

1985 Publication by New South Wales Department of Agriculture on ‘Honey and Pollen Flora’ by Alan Clemson records that Manuka is the common name for Leptospermum.

1994 Byron Bay beekeeper, Michael Howes, begins research into apitherapy products as a beekeeper with hives located on Manuka honey native environments.

1995 In June 1995, Capilano Honey as Australia’s largest honey packer, began researching the therapeutic and wound healing properties of honey, including that originating from the Leptospermum species and the Manuka honey this plant produces.

1996 Capilano Honey registered the MEDIHONEY trade mark in the class of medicinal, pharmaceutical and therapeutic as we began to progress plan to commercialise Manuka honeys.

1997 Dr Peter Molan, one of the key NZ scientists responsible for identifying the unique properties of Manuka honey, visited Capilano’s Australian office.

1998 In a large survey of New Zealand honeys, Molan and Russell (1988) found a correlation between high levels of antibacterial activity and non-peroxide content. Allen et al. (1991) suggested that the variation in activity might be attributable to the Manuka floral source. Honey from Manuka demonstrated high antibacterial activity, and this was shown to be due to a non-peroxide component.

1998 Capilano’s Medihoney brand finalises the formula of a range of therapeutic medical honey products, using Australian Manuka honey as the key active ingredient, with Medihoney products listed with the TGA in 1999.

2000 An article published in the UK by the Nursing Times, and was written by NZ authors, stating: “Various brands of honey with standardised levels of antibacterial are commercially available from manufacturers in New Zealand and Australia. They are all Leptospermum honey, commonly known as Manuka honey, which has an unusually high level of plant-derived non-peroxide antibacterial activity.”

2002 Capilano introduced Australian Manuka Clear Honey into the UK supermarket for Sainsbury’s Private Label range. Capilano sold jars of Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference Clear Manuka Honey’ from June 2002 to March 2006.

2003 Capilano and Medihoney promote Manuka honey in the UK at the BBC Trade Show from 2001 – 2003.

2004 Medihoney published the findings of its first clinical study, and Medihoney (Europe) Ltd was established as Active+ Manuka honey exports to Europe expanded. Australian active Manuka products were being sold in the UK through Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury and Tesco pharmacies and even listed as part of the UK Drug Tariff.

2005 Hive + Wellnesses’ BeeVital Brand championed the sale of Australian Manuka honey products in local grocery channels. Since the early 2000’s, the Capilano brand has also sold various Manuka honey products.

2007 Capilano sold Medihoney Pty Ltd to Comvita Limited (New Zealand) and Comvita Holdings Pty Ltd so those companies could invest further in the marketing and supply of Australian Manuka honey products.

2010 Australian Government commissioned a project to investigate existing and prospective honey markets, referring to Manuka throughout the report.

2016 ABC TV show Landline does a special report on Australian Manuka honey production.

2016 Food Standards Agency (FSA) (UK) undertook a study to understand consumer perceptions of honey, in the findings the FSA described Manuka honey to study participant as ‘a honey sourced mainly from Australia or New Zealand. Manuka honey differs from other honey as it is made only from the nectar of the Manuka tree…’

2017 Comvita (NZ) AGM Investor Presentation 2017, referring to Australian Manuka honey as part of their investment in Medibee Australia.

2019 On 19 March 2019, Capilano’s parent company changed its structure to a proprietary company. It is now known as Hive + Wellness Australia Pty Ltd. Capilano branded Manuka is the number one seller of Manuka honey, and it is all 100% Australian.


Keen to learn more?

Why not download our Capilano Manuka honey ebook filled with recipes, education and inspiration to boost your daily health routine, naturally!

For further information on the Mark of Authenticity and the Criteria for Defining Australian Manuka Honey, visit

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