Manuka to Kanuka

Jul 19, 2019

Manuka has become one of the best-known buzzwords in the health and wellness industry.

But what many might not know is how the miracle of Manuka was discovered – on an island 60 nautical miles off the coast of New Zealand – all because of a boy and a splinter.

The unlikely discovery

It was the summer of ’85 on Great Barrier Island and a local boy had got a splinter stuck in his eye.

With the closest doctor at least two days away, panic started to set in.

But then a miracle occurred. When the splinter was removed, the boy’s eye was miraculously uninjured.

The offending piece of bark had come from a Manuka tree – and its special antibacterial properties had prevented infection.

Word quickly spread of the ‘Manuka Miracle’ and local farmer Sven Stellin – who was amazed by the healing properties of the unique tree – bound off into the rolling valleys of the island to uncover the therapeutic secrets that lay hidden within nature.

Sven Stellin, founder of Sven’s Island Natural Remedies

After returning with leaves, seeds, blooms and roots, Sven would often be seen in his old tin shed experimenting with plant extracts using traditional techniques such as distillation, tincturing and infusion.

Before long he began developing his own unique recipes for family and friends, using only a weather-beaten steel can, a brandy bottle and some aluminium piping.

He didn’t know it at the time, but that was the start of Sven’s Island – Natural Remedies, a 100% natural personal care brand that became famous for its Miracle Manuka Medi-Salve Ointment.

Containing the powerful antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic properties of Manuka leaf oil, marshmallow root, palmarosa oil and beeswax, it’s a handy first-aid kit in a tin.

From Manuka to Kanuka

New Zealand is home to three of the 35 species of the “manuka” genus (most are Australian). The third species – Leptospermum Sinclairii or Aotea Kanuka – is only found on Great Barrier Island, and took Sven on an even greater journey of discovery than Manuka.

More than 100 times stronger than medical-grade UMF Manuka honey, Great Barrier Island Kanuka is considered the most therapeutic out of all the species found in New Zealand – with powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research has shown that the special Kanuka tree delivers some of the most potent healing powers found anywhere in nature with the ability to conquer acne, eczema, rashes, burns, sores, insect bites and even deadly bacterial infections.

Scientists also found powerful antioxidants that exhibit strong cell regeneration and healing properties for repairing damaged skin.

In 2016, Sven’s Island became the first brand to send medical grade Kanuka products across the ditch to Australia and they are now beginning to sell into China, Europe and the USA.

The Natural Way

Just as New Zealand’s native Maori have known for many years, Sven discovered that his island was home to powerful native extracts, and he began harvesting them by hand to create a range of 100% natural personal care products.

As Mark Sharman, Sven’s stepson and co-founder of Sven’s Island, likes to say, “Natural means any substance grown or harvested from nature so if we can’t grow it, pick it or dig it up then it just isn’t going in our products”.

Now in his mid-60’s, Sven still extracts the fragrant Aotea Kanuka oil by hand and harvests the honey once a year when the trees are in bloom.

“We treat our native trees and plants as part of the family and handle every step of the process ourselves from beginning to end,” Sven says.

In line with Sven’s unwavering sustainability ethos, all active native ingredients are wild harvested with the utmost sensitivity to protect the island’s finely tuned eco-system, including regular checks to carefully monitor regrowth and ongoing restoration projects.

The distillery is run on biofuel to reduce any carbon footprint and the company uses recyclable packaging.

Because industrial techniques used by big extraction manufacturers can damage the important properties of a plant, reducing their therapeutic powers, Sven uses a delicate “proprietary extraction process” which allows the natural properties of the plants to remain at their maximum potency.

Sven’s Island

Sven’s Island, otherwise known as Great Barrier Island, can be found 60 nautical miles off the coast of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island.

It’s home to around 900 full-time residents, including Sven and his wife Trish who both oversee the farm and the production process.

Sven’s patch of the island runs along 42 kilometres of coastline and is home to a flourishing population of native plants including the iconic Manuka and Kanuka trees which grow wild on more than 2500 acres.

The island is so far removed from civilisation that it’s one of the most pollution-free spots on the planet. Its isolated location also provides natural protection from pests and other nasties, meaning there’s no need for herbicides and pesticides.

Great Barrier Island is also a protected conservation zone.

100% Natural for the Whole Family

Sven’s Island products are formulated using the healing and protective power of nature, including the miraculous properties of Manuka and the soothing extracts of Kanuka.

Designed for people who care about what is on the inside, the cult range includes:

  • A Fresh Face ultra-renewal moisturiser, which uses Mamaku fern extract that has been proven to increase new skin cell regeneration by up to 48% and the anti-inflammatory properties of New Zealand Kanuka honey to reduce redness and uneven pigmentation;
  • Skin Dip body repair lotion which can help dry, irritated or sensitive skin thanks to the soothing goodness of organic Pohutakawa leaf extract and Aloe vera juice;
  • A ‘pedi-in-a-pot’ Barefoot Balsam foot cream packed with organic Paw Paw leaf extract and Kanuka leaf oil that targets cracked heels and foot fungus;
  • Sven’s Island Spotless facial gel cleanser – a saviour among acne sufferers – with the world-first use of Lemonwood Oil, which contains high levels of anti-bacterial content, proving a valuable tool in the fight against pimples;
  • Sven’s nourishing Bubba Calm baby cream with Kohuhu leaf extract, formulated especially to help mums combat common baby and toddler skin irritations;
  • And to round out the offering, Sven’s recently launched an SPF 15+ Sun Lip Balm containing wild vanilla bean and beeswax and a travel-size version of Miracle Manuka Medi-Salve (because one never knows when a splinter emergency may occur on a remote island).

Made with only natural, organic ingredients, the entire Sven’s Island range is family-friendly.

In the next 12 months, keep an eye out for Sven’s Island Original Bushman’s Kanuka soap, Manuka and Lemonwood natural deodorant, shampoo and conditioner with lathering natural soap Kumerhou, and toothpaste made with Kawakawa – an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial plant that the Maoris have long used on sore gums.

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