Off The Grid Oils On Great Barrier

Manuka growing on Great Barrier

It may seem difficult enough to manufacture premium quality essential oils, let alone to do it sustainably and off the grid on Great Barrier Island. That is what Wayne Banks and Mark Edwards (Eddie) have been doing extremely successfully.

Their aim was to produce the highest quality, totally natural, Manuka and Kawakawa products in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner – and so Aotea Oils was born.

We first researched Maori Medicine (Rongoa) to gain an understanding of how these native plants were traditionally used by Maori and early European settlers. We then studied many scientific research papers to validate what we had learnt. Manuka and Kawakawa are the most well known of New Zealand’s native plants for good reason, their amazing and vast array of medicinal uses.

We take pride in how we produce or products and where possible we use traditional tried and tested methods, we use no added chemicals, scents or colours in any of our products. All of our hydrosols are vegan, the balms contain beeswax.

Wayne and Eddie are both residents of Great Barrier Island, the perfect place to source the raw plant material and to produce pure products. “The Barrier” located 70km offshore from Auckland is 265 square kilometres in size, mostly covered in native bush and with just 900 residents is pristine and largely unspoiled. The land we source our plants from has never been exposed to herbicides or pesticides.

Trimming Manuka


At Aotea oils we care for our environment, every step of our processes are carefully considered to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. We do not cut down the trees, instead we selectively prune just the growth and leaves we need. The Manuka bush we use is also used to produce high quality Manuka honey, pruning the trees as we do results in more growth and increased flowering which is good for the honey bees.

What is good for nature is good for us all. The water we use is unpolluted Barrier rain water. The tools we use to harvest are all battery powered and as Great Barrier Island is totally “off the grid” these are charged using solar power, this same solar power is used to power our water pumps etc.

Manuka flower

Unique production

At Aotea Oils we do things a little differently. Most other Manuka Oil producers use steam generators, which produce steam at up to 103 degrees Celsius, to pump steam in high volumes through the distillation unit, this results in high yield levels of essential oil. The down side of this method is that above 70 degrees some of the oils medicinal properties start to break down. This method also results in large volumes of steam been used which when condensed to hydrosol is very weak and seen by most as a waste product.

We custom designed our own distillation unit which heats the water to just 65 degrees and includes other design features which slow the flow of the steam down through the distillation chamber. Although this does result in a lower yield of essential oil the massive upside is we now produce Hydrosol of the highest quality and potency which has proven to be unique and effective for a vast variety of uses.

Our current production levels enable us to produce 120 of our 100ml bottles of hydrosol per day, however we have a second identical distillation unit ready to enter service. As our business expands and grows it is our intention to add more units of the same specifications as our first rather than increase the size and risk lowering our quality.

Wendyls’ Green Goddess now sells Aotea Oils Manuka Hydrosol and Kawakawa Hydrosol. For information on the specific properties and how they may help you click here.

Great Barrier Island


Comments 2

  1. Hi,
    This sounds like a very interesting operation.
    I’m interested in viewing your distilling operation if you are open to visits.
    Would you let me know if this would be possible?
    Thanks in anticipation, Jane

    1. Post

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