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.
The values of the business are about wellness and health – hauoratanga – and the way we stand up in our community, giving back and supporting our communities.
At a beach party to kick off the New Year, three great friends came up with a terrific idea for a world-beating non-alcoholic drink. It took most of the night to sharpen up the initial idea, but the product they dreamed up in the early hours of 2020 is now selling world-wide. It’s true to say that Lance Paora, Wayne Atkins and Joe Harawira invented the business over a few drinks.
Like Joe (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Te Rangi), if you want a healthy drink option, you might find yourself sipping lolly-flavoured kombucha. “I remember pouring it into a glass, trying it, and then saying something along the lines of ‘this tastes nothing like pineapple.’ Initially, everyone laughed,” says Joe.
“But then we started throwing around ideas, as you do. 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'd landed on combining local mānuka honey from the Bay of Plenty…we knew a beekeeper… with spring water from Gisborne. We’d call it the healing water of Aotearoa!”
The friends discussed their idea with an IP attorney – their first idea for a trade mark would be difficult to register. They took advice and grew their understanding of the requirements to successfully register a trade mark. The IP attorney also checked the public register of existing trade marks and provided advice about creating a stronger brand.
The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) lists all registered marks online and you can search them for free, using Trade Mark Check. If a business is already using a trade mark similar to what you propose, for a similar product or service, they may already own the intellectual property represented by the trade mark.
Search for existing trade marks
The importance of wellness, and a sense of place and people, contribute greatly to the Wai Mānuka brand story.
The graphic, curving design in their trade mark logo, is by a well-known Māori moko artist. The meaning of the shapes comes from mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge). It represents the friends’ focus on health, and their special relationship.
Joe says “I've known Lance pretty much my whole life. We were born a week apart in the same ward and we went to the same primary school, and our dads work together at the local board mills there. Wayne came onto the scene in high school, we all grew up together and we all hung out together.”
During 2020 the business pushed ahead. Wai Mānuka got its first big break when it was selected as an official non-alcoholic drink for the 36th America’s Cup.
To get to that point, the friends had needed to turn their idea into a viable business, with a commercial strategy and product. Callaghan Innovation and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise offered great support in product development and understanding global markets, while the Food Innovation Network helped them scale up and commercialise the drink.
“Through them, we managed to secure a relationship with a beverage consultant,” says Joe. “She made two versions of Wai Mānuka and then she said, ‘I think I know which one you're going to like, but I want you to try them both to see.’ So we tried the first one, deciding on the spot that's it, we like that one.
“With this help we got to a key stage – we know the product tastes great. We have the branding to tell the story. And it’s just great, three mates with no background in beverage making coming together to make a drink that is a little bit different.”
The America’s Cup success generated a buzz around Wai Mānuka. The business used this to land new contracts and partnerships. Within a year, you could see Wai Mānuka in a high-end restaurant, or a hotel or a cafe.
There is no added sugar or colours in the beverage, we wanted to keep it as close to the natural source as possible.
Joe says “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 like it's a whole coastal area, sort of coming together to create this, this beverage.”
The values and principles of the brand are part of the world view that Lance, Wayne and Joe share. “The first one is hauoratanga which stands for wellness or wellbeing. The second one is for whanaungatanga, which is about relationships. So we will always value relationships before doing business. Manaakitanga that's about giving back and supporting each other and our communities. And then the final one is kaitiakitanga,” says Joe.
To represent the values of the business, 3 Māori Boys connected with Kutz Maihi, a local Māori creative artist in Whakatāne, their hometown. He created a Māori motif for the logo that speaks to nature's role at the heart of Wai Mānuka, and in particular pays homage to the bees. The Māori term for it is ’he inu o te taiao’, which means basically the creative processes used to produce Wai Mānuka.
Joe thinks it really pops in terms of branding. “When you see it up on a shelf in a store, because that Māori motif, it stands out. It's resonated with everyone who's tried Wai Mānuka.”
Our understanding of all things IP, at the start, was very much at that beginner level. And it's still not too far from that – we're learning things every day.
The friends have made the most of the advice they have been given and see it as a learning experience. They used an IP Lawyer to apply to register the Wai Mānuka logo. As a key component of the mark is a Māori graphic element or motif, once the application was received by IPONZ, the trade mark was reviewed by the Māori Trade Marks Advisory Committee. It’s their role to consider whether the trade mark could be offensive to Māori.
With intellectual property locked in, the trade mark logo is distinctive and easy to spot on the bottles, and the product packaging.
“Each of the curves and each of the patterns tells a unique story about Wai Mānuka. Being able to protect that is a really important aspect of the trade mark.” Says Joe. “So it took four or five months going through the entire process. But coming out the other side, we absolutely recognise how important that is, that it basically sets us up in terms of protecting the brand. It's a really great communication tool as well with customers, because it really speaks to our attributes, our values. A big part of the story is having that emotional connection. So being able to protect that I think is a really important aspect of the trade mark.”
In the marketplace Māori brands stand out, they can be powerful and distinctive marks which lead to commercial benefits. There are some things to consider when registering IP with Māori elements.
Register IP that has a Māori element
The advice I would pass on to other businesses about intellectual property is that you have to be able to adapt from your first idea, like we did. It is, at times, a complex process to go through. But it's totally worthwhile.
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have been very supportive. Through them, 3 Māori Boys were put in touch with a number of relevant business experts. From that group, they have been able to assemble a perfect set of mentors into an advisory board. The board has provided valuable guidance in key areas, acting as a touchstone on IP questions and opportunities.
“We had some laboratory studies done on the health benefits of Wai Mānuka. And because we had such a great, great relationship with IP lawyers, we reached out to them. Do we need anything to protect this as some sort of patent? And they came back to us and said, ‘don't communicate the benefits just yet’. Because if you do communicate them, then you're unlikely to be able to patent them. We didn't know that,” says Joe.
“The advice I would pass on to other businesses about intellectual property is that you have to be able to adapt from your first idea, like we did. It is, at times, a complex process to go through. But it's totally worthwhile.”
Joe sees exciting opportunities in the non-alcoholic beverage market category at the moment. He says “Not only is there a huge amount of growth around the world, but also locally. You know, earlier this year, there was a report come out from the New Zealand breweries that they've seen a 1,116% increase in the consumption of non-alcoholic beer over the last five years. So we probably couldn't have picked a better time.”
View the full conversation (8:58) from World IP Day with Joe Harawira (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Te Rangi), co-founder of 3 Māori Boys