Liquid gold harvested in Rotorua

Liquid gold harvested in Rotorua

13 October 2022

Part of Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme is exploring alternative land uses around Lake Rotorua, with funding from the Low Nitrogen Land Use Fund.

One of these crops includes these hedged mānuka saplings in Ōwhata with another crop in Ngongotaha. They’re being trialled for the production of mānuka oil. Mānuka is a low-nitrogen land use option, and these pilot crops will help us determine if it is a viable alternative.

Recently, Te Arawa Lakes Trust staff pruned our Ōwhata plot to ensure the plants are nice and bushy for the main harvest at the end of summer. With a focus on the circular economy, the excess brush was distilled and tested for its special properties. From this prune alone 620kg of brush was gathered, sent off to be distilled in Ōpōtiki and 1.5L of mānuka oil was produced.This equates to 2.5L per tonne of brush and we’re expecting about 3.5L per tonne from our summer harvest. 

In the past, owners of small blocks in Ōwhata near Rotorua Airport, leased their land for growing maize. However, maize can no longer be cropped due to the Lake Rotorua Nutrient Rules and planting tall trees here isn’t an option because of height restrictions imposed by the Airport.

The trials are being supported by forestry expert, Andy Dick from Logjiztix and Bill Young from Te Arawa Primary Sector. They've been working with Bay of Plenty Regional Council with the support of mana whenua and Te Arawa Lakes Trust.