Wai Mānuka

Case studies

Ideas come in all shapes and sizes. It is likely that no matter your business or industry, intellectual property (IP) will help you along your journey. Find out more about how these New Zealand companies have leveraged IP to get to where they are today.

Wai Mānuka

Trade marks Copyright

Creating a premium, non-alcoholic beverage takes some Kiwi ingenuity, and knowing the importance of protecting your brand by registering a trade mark takes even more. See how Wai Manuka used an IP professional for a smooth IP journey.

Joe Harawira, co-founder of 3 Māori Boys Ltd, talks about launching a premium, non-alcoholic beverage to market, and the values that make the Wai Mānuka brand unique.
Credit: Mark Tantrum Photography Ltd.
Duration: 4:17

The opening screen shows the message “Dream it. Do it. Own it.” On a stylised speech bubble.

We see Joe Harawira jogging through native New Zealand forest and hear him talk about brand values and introduce himself before we see him seated in an interview. He says “Our attributes and our values are an extension of the brand. A big part of the story is having an emotional connection. So being able to protect that with intellectual property is a really important aspect of the trade mark.”

Kia ora, my name is Joe Harawira. I'm the co-founder and Managing Director of 3 Māori Boys Ltd, and we make and market Wai Mānuka, New Zealand's premium non-alcoholic beverage that infuses mānuka honey with lemon juice and sparkling water.

On screen we see bottles of the branded drink, set up on an outside table that is dressed with a table cloth and set with champagne flutes and cutlery for lunch.

The shot changes to three friends on the beach and also at a selection of places around their home town. This includes under a waharoa (carved gateway) in front of a school, in front of a shop, and then passing a rugby ball on the beach.

Joe says “We started the company with a goal to stay more connected as lifelong friends. I've known Lance pretty much my whole life. Wayne came onto the scene in high school, and each of us bring different skill sets and experiences to the business. We all grew up together and we all hung out together.”

The scene returns to the interview with Joe. He says “We just really love being around each other. We love each other's company, we found that as we were getting older, we were only catching up kind of fleetingly.”

 “We have this mantra where we respect each other and we uphold each other's mana. Feels like we're more married now than friends.”

On screen the three friends are sitting around a fire as the sun sets, other people are talking and laughing, but the three are pretty involved in their conversation.

In the voiceover Joe says “So catalyst moment for Wai Mānuka - like all great business stories - happened at a New Year’s Eve party. 2019 going into 2020. So I'm sitting around the barbecue with a whole group of friends and both Lance and Wayne are there.”

The smoke from the fire swirls gently in different directions. The scene changes to night time and the conversation is still going strong. We see drink bottles in their hands and then some kind of drink being poured into some glasses.

Joe says “I don't drink alcohol. So I was consuming pineapple kombucha. I remember trying it saying something along the lines of ‘this tastes nothing like pineapple’. Initially, everyone laughed, including the boys.”

“But then we started throwing around ideas. If we were going to take a premium non-alcoholic beverage to social occasions, events, or celebrations, what would it be? So by three o'clock in the morning, we've landed on combining mānuka honey from Bay of Plenty, with spring water from Gisborne.

We see images of native forest and streams. The scene changes to the friends in a planning workshop around a kitchen table.

Joe says “We did a bit of desktop research and we found it was actually no one really making a premium kind of mānuka honey beverage. And then we just decided at that moment to go into business and for ourselves.”

There are scenes from the development of the drink. The friends working around a computer screen, testing options in various glasses, and setting up displays of the newly developed product for a launch party. Lance is taking photos of the display on his phone, looking pretty amazed that it looks so good.

In the voiceover Joe describes the development process, “We approached the Food Innovation Network. And through them, we managed to secure a relationship with their beverage consultant. She made two versions of Wai Mānuka, then we tried the first one we said, well that's it, we like that one. So we selected the first one without even trying the second one.”

The scene swaps between shots of various drinks on a table made with Wai Mānuka, and Joe talking in the interview setting.  

He says “We know the product tastes great. We have the branding, to support telling the story. And then we have the story, three mates with no background in beverage making coming together to make this drink that is so community inter-connected.”

We see beach and town shots around Whakatāne, while Joe continues, “The honey comes from our hometown of Whakatāne from a guy we used to go to school with. The lemon juice comes from a family in Hawke's Bay, and then the water and where it's bottled, that all happens in Tauranga. So it's a whole kind of coastal area coming together to create this beverage.

Back in the interview setting Joe talks about the support they’ve had. He says “Lots of people want to come on board as mentors. And it's been great because New Zealand is so small and everyone is connected. We were talking to another mentor. And then they mentioned protecting yourself through a trade mark would be the next step.”

We see a close-up shot of the top of the bottle. It has a detailed Māori motif.

Joe says “We were able to trade mark the Māori motif that's wrapped around the neck label and the base label by the end of that year. So it took sort of four or five months going through the entire process.”

The scene shifts back to the three of them working at the kitchen table. He says “The values for us are around connection, culture, community, and wellness, like we're all right into our health and fitness.”

Again we see Joe jogging in the forest. And then the friends supporting a local sports team, having a great time.

The voice-over continues “We're all into like giving back at our sort of community level. And we're really big on culture, both Māori and kiwi culture, those inherent values within each of us are woven into Wai Mānuka.”

The scene changes to iconic shots of the coastal features, and on the main drag in Whakatāne.

Joe says “So we're really fortunate to connect with Kutz Maihi, who's a local Māori creative artist back in Whakatāne, our hometown. And he created our own Māori motif, each of the curves and each of the patterns tells a unique story about the nature's role in producing Wai Mānuka.

Nature scenes flash in front of us. Bees, natural scenes montaged together.

Joe says “Our understanding of all things IP, at the start of going into business was very much at that beginner level. And this entire process has been a learning experience as well.”

The filmed shot jumps from the friends scene, planning at the kitchen table and Joe speaking in the interview. Joe says “New Zealand Trade and Enterprise again, were really supportive in this area, through them, we managed to connect with an advisory board around protecting your IP and what are you guys doing now? What's happening in the future?

The final scenes are of people drinking Wai Mānuka in café and bar settings.

Joe says “We have a philosophical goal no matter where in the world you are, and you see Wai Mānuka, straightaway you feel a connection to New Zealand, it's your own little piece of the country. The timing and the opportunities that exist in the non-alcoholic beverage category are really exciting at the moment. There's a lot more people around the world that are gravitating towards non-alcoholic beverages. It's a massive high growth market. We probably couldn't have picked a better time to enter it. Just a bunch of boys having fun and hopefully inspire everyday Kiwis to follow their business goals and to start exporting.

The closing titles say “Own your new year’s eve party idea” and this fades to the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand logo.

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