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West Coaster Rory Hill is responsible for unearthing the real potential in aromatic Mānuka essential oil, and wider markets await this groundbreaking product.

Mānuka honey has long been celebrated for its health benefits. But now, its cousin – Mānuka essential oil – is entering the scene, offering healing properties and a captivating aroma unlike other essential oils on the market.

Passionate Mānuka oil producer Rory Hill, the founder of Blackfern Botanical, was astounded by his own personal use of the oil. He found that Mānuka essential oil, when diluted, supported the healing of cold sores and many other ailments.

Encouraged by his own positive experiences in 2018, the entrepreneur was determined to extract the oil from the native plant and make it commercially available to a wider audience.

Blackfern Botanical specialises in wild harvesting and steam-distilling Mānuka from native Leptospermum scoparium [Mānuka] trees – found in the pristine surroundings of Ōkārito and Franz Josef – into an oil and an aerosol extract. The oil is produced by distilling the Mānuka leaves, seeds, and bark.

This particular Mānuka plant on the West Coast, once distilled, has an aroma unlike any other Mānuka plant. A statement backed-up by Robert Franich, an expert in Mānuka oil analysis at Chemipreneur Limited.

“It has a far more pleasant aroma than the currently produced Mānuka oils, which had a much more medicinal smell where we had a much more pleasant sweeter fragrance,” says Hill.

This distinction is crucial, as many alternative oils produced in the industry are often described as having an off-putting and intense aroma, akin to old socks.

Blackfern Botanical employs a responsible and sustainable harvesting approach, extracting Mānuka essential oil and hydrosol from native Mānuka plants through a meticulous distillation process.

The oil and hydrosol produce has been shown to have bio-active properties, including antifungal and antibacterial and antiviral attributes, making it a versatile addition to various products.

While Blackfern Botanical may have had a modest beginning, its ambitions are grand as it continues to make Mānuka essential oil and hydrosol readily available to bigger markets in New Zealand and overseas.


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Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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