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  • Writer's picturePatrick Dawkins

Honey Strategy to Take Centre Stage at Hamilton Summit

Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) and the Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) will be hosting a one-day Industry Summit for beekeepers in Hamilton on Tuesday June 18. It’s a free event, with discussion surrounding the Honey Industry Strategy 2024-30 leading the programme. We check in with the organisers, who say they want beekeepers to come along ready to listen to, and participate in, discussion on the strategy.

The New Zealand Honey Strategy 2024-30 was released in February. Now, with beekeeping workloads lessening over winter, Apiculture New Zealand want to hear what beekeepers think of it at an Industry Summit Day in Hamilton on June 18.

While beekeepers have become accustomed to multi-day, winter conferences hosted by ApiNZ since the industry body’s formation in 2016, this June things will be quite different, but still with plenty packed into the one-day event.

There will be no trade displays around which attendees can mingle at The Pā building on the University of Waikato campus this year, but with Hamilton the site of the New Zealand Honey Bee Science Symposium, the day prior, and New Zealand Beeswax’s get together, the day following, there is still much to draw those in the apiculture industry to the area from June 17-19.

The programme for the Industry Summit Day features a mix of speakers from outside the beekeeping industry – but with expertise in trade, commodity levels, business and politics – plus more beekeeping focused personal such as scientific beekeeper Randy Oliver “Zooming” in from California to speak to his latest research, and Niha Long from the American Foulbrood Pest Management Plan Agency to provide an update on their work.

At the forefront of the programme is the Honey Industry Strategy 2024-30, which was released in February and branded a “living document” by ApiNZ. It proposes a levy on mānuka honey exports to support various industry-good initiatives.

“The Summit Day is an opportunity for people to feed into the Strategy and the thinking around it," ApiNZ CEO Karin Kos says.

"I am very conscious that we launched it in February, which was a busy time for beekeepers. So, we wanted to give them some time to think it over, and so we could put a programme together that reflects the direction of the strategy.”

The programme of events will see Sophie Craig, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s UK/EU commercial advisor, present via video link, before New Zealand Winegrowers GM for advocacy, Sarah Wilson, details their industry group’s development and use of a levy. Sector advisor and lawyer Stephen Franks will then preset ideas surrounding how an effective industry body might be formed.

“It’s as much an opportunity to give feedback, as it is to hear from the authors of the strategy and from best practice, such as from New Zealand Winegrowers, and a panel of industry personal to say their piece and to hear from beekeepers,” Kos says.

That panel discussion will lead the afternoon session, while ApiNZ Chair Nathan Guy will facilitate a Q&A discussion in the morning in an attempt to get ideas from attendees. The whole programme is based around learning and listening, whether it is the beekeepers or Strategy authors doing that.

“It’s about showing people the big picture, the breakdown of the steps we need to get there in terms of structure or regulatory framework that might be needed, and where the individual components of the industry fit it, whether that be a commercial beekeeper, an exporter, or a non-commercial,” Kos says.

Since releasing the Strategy, ApiNZ has hosted a webinar with members to discuss it, while Kos and Guy have visited some regional beekeeping groups where the document has been a talking point. A “roadshow” of events to present and discuss it is also in the plans, but no dates have been set. It has also been discussed and well received amongst UMFHA’s membership of mānuka honey exporters, according to CEO Tony Wright.

The Pā building on the University of Waikato campus in Hamilton will be the venue for ApiNZ and UMFHA to both provide more details on their Honey Strategy, and get feedback, June 18.

“I want to hear from the people who are not our members, to find out what else we need to be incorporating into our thinking," Wright says.

"Is there anything we haven’t thought of? I think the focus is right from a UMFHA perspective, based on the feedback I have had so far, but it needs to be right for the whole sector, the whole country.”

Since the Strategy was released in February, there has been work done behind the scenes at ApiNZ to advance it says Wright, who also sits on the ApiNZ board.

“There has been a lot of work undertaken around understanding governance models and legal frameworks. We should be able to provide a fairly good update at the summit around the evolvement in thinking around what might be the best legislative support we need, and the best governance approach. Then we want to get some feedback on that.”

With the event free of charge, they are trying to remove as many barriers as possible to taking part in the Strategy discussion. And, while it may not be a gathering on the same scale as other ApiNZ conferences, it will be valuable to beekeepers all the same, Kos believes.

“As much as it is an opportunity for people to have their say, and listen, it is also an opportunity for people to catch up, which is really important,” she says.


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