With over 100 beekeepers taking care of more than 25,000 beehives across 2,000 locations, Oha Honey is Aotearoa’s largest producer of Mānuka honey. They provide bulk honey, packaged honey for commercial clients, including China’s biggest brand, and their own indigenous brand Tāku.
Oha Honey is part of the Ngāi Tahu family of businesses, investments and community programmes. Including the warehouse and office teams, the business employs 130 people, 5 per cent are Ngāi Tahu and 15 per cent are Māori from other iwi. The entire Oha Honey workforce has an employment package that includes Southern Cross Health Insurance – an initiative that was adopted across the Ngāi Tahu group in early 2021.
"For us it’s about looking after our people, they’re our most important asset, says Ben Bateman, Chief Operating Officer. Health insurance fits into two of our core values: whanaungatanga (family) and manaakitangi (looking after our people). Looking after our people is one of our primary obligations. We want to create the conditions for them to be healthy and happy."
He points to Southern Cross’ reputation as a trusted brand for giving everyone confidence – as well as the friendly service provided for the various Oha Honey teams across the country. And like Ngāi Tahu, Southern Cross is a wholly New Zealand entity, created by New Zealanders, to support the wellbeing of local people.
"It’s definitely a selling point"
Closed borders have made it tough for New Zealand’s primary industries to find new staff and grow their businesses. An appealing employment package, including Southern Cross Health Insurance, is helpful both for recruiting and retaining team members, says Ben.
"When it comes to attracting new talent, this is definitely a selling point. In our discussions with prospective employees, they’re often really interested in the health insurance as part of our offering. With the challenges in labour and staff availability, any way we can show a point of difference helps – this is another tool in the toolbox."
The team is already making widespread use of the GP visits that are available in their policy, and Ben says those who’ve added their family to their plan have enjoyed the peace of mind it offers for their children’s care.
"Health and safety is a huge focus for us and we’re lucky that Ngāi Tahu puts a lot of resources into taking care of everyone, Ben says. Just like Southern Cross, Oha Honey is a not-for-profit business; it’s also owned entirely by the tribe. Oha is vertically integrated right through the value chain. Wider social and environmental outcomes are an important part of our purpose, and that includes taking care of our people."
Covering every corner of Aotearoa
Oha Honey’s beehives are often located in some of Aotearoa’s most remote corners, from Whangarei in the north to Culverden in the south. Mānuka trees only flower for a few weeks a year, so it’s a huge operation to collect the tonnes of honey – some hives are accessible by car, others only by air. With their valuable team working so hard and in conditions that can be challenging, it’s vital to the Oha leadership team that staff are comprehensively cared for with Southern Cross Health Insurance."We’re really proud to offer Southern Cross Health Insurance cover to our team members, says Ben. Many of the team are working really hard in tough environments. Being able to offer them and their families the benefits of Southern Cross Health Insurance is fantastic, and we get some pretty positive feedback."