Sourcing Story: Mānuka Oil

By Activist
December 15, 2022

Gabrielle Mirkin in New Zealand
Nature is remarkable when unconstrained. This very special oil is freshly distilled every few weeks, in small batches on a beautiful and remote island in New Zealand.

Each element we work with has a unique story and an expert who advocates for it, taking every step possible to preserve its quality and the sustainability of its production.

Our story begins on a remote island off the east coast of New Zealand, only accessible by air or boat. The air is clear and crisp in the absence of urban toxins.

The island is a sanctuary for native flora and fauna. Covered with dense, wild Mānuka and isolated hives sprinkled through the terrain. The bees and flowers flourish here.

Once on the island, a remote journey by Polaris through the wild coastal terrain takes us to our destination. Working with local, independent farmers is at the core of ACTIVIST. This family property comprises over 500 hectares of native land and Mānuka trees and operates entirely off-the-grid, using solar power for much of its equipment.

ACTIVIST Mānuka Oil is wildcrafted and distilled from the leaves and twigs of this native tree. Each plant is individually hand pruned and shaped.

Harvesting and collection of the leaf material is conducted by hand. The leaves from which our oil is distilled, are returned back to the soil following harvest, creating a mulch and underlay to the earth’s ground.

Gabrielle, Tallulah and Cisco watch as Mānuka Oil is extracted in a solar-powered steam distillery. The Mānuka Oil is extracted using water and steam distillation, which is gentler than direct steam distillation.

Mānuka itself is a highly sustainable tree and plays a key role in the grand scheme of New Zealand’s native foliage and important plant layers. The Mānuka tree helps to rejuvenate the soil with minerals while working as a natural purifier for waterways and preventing soil erosion. Bees flourish while happily pollinating Mānuka flowers and the tree self-seeds producing rapid new undergrowth year after year.