Australia's Manuka producers are back in court determined to win a bitter trans-Tasman battle raging to stop New Zealand from trademarking the name of the lucrative honey famed for its healing properties.
It comes after the New Zealand Manuka Honey Appellation Society applied to trademark the name about five years ago. Battlelines got drawn after the Australian Manuka Honey Association lodged an objection arguing the Kiwis could not claim a plant.
Australia and NZ both have multi-million dollar export industries hanging on the outcome of the legal proceedings taking place over the next few days.
Manuka honey gets produced by bees feeding on the pollen of the Leptospermum scoparium plant native to both countries.
Award-winning Tasmanian master beekeeper Lindsay Bourke, an Australian Manuka Honey Association member, said in Tassie the word Manuka (written without the macron used in NZ to represent a long vowel) has been used for more than 100 years.
Mr Bourke said the legal team arguing the Australian case had 500 pages of evidence to present over the three-day court hearing in NZ.
"They are claiming that they have the only Manuka in the world, trying to prevent us from selling it in overseas markets," Mr Bourke said.
"Worse than that, one Australian producer has just registered his trade name of Australian Manuka, and NZ is opposing it."
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Mr Bourke said it was crucial not to lose the court battle for the nation's Manuka producers, including his fellow Tasmanian producers.
"It's essential for us because we are big producers of the original Manuka honey Leptospermum scoparium the only variety that NZ has. We have many varieties of Manuka, and some of ours are far more active and more valuable," he said.
"We must win this because we had Manuka honey well before the New Zealanders."
Mr Bourke said Australia and NZ were the only countries producing Manuka honey.
He said Australia had hoped to work with NZ, but NZ declined Australia's invitation to collaborate.
"The whole world wants as much Manuka honey as they can get, and we should be working together, not against each other," he said.
A result from the court ruling is likely to take months.