Celebrating 40 Years of New Zealand Roots

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Celebrating 40 Years of New Zealand Roots

Earlier this month, our sister company Tui Balms in New Zealand celebrated their 40th anniversary. Many of you may already be aware that Songbird Naturals actually grew out of Tui Balms at the Tui Community in Golden Bay, New Zealand. But for those of you who don’t know, here’s a brief overview of Tui’s story:


In the early 80’s, an all-natural Bee Balm was designed by the late Colin Iles, an English beekeeper, combining only natural ingredients to create a multi-purpose soothing and healing skincare balm. The recipe was then gifted to the newly formed Tui Community in Golden Bay, New Zealand, in 1984.


For the first few years, the Bee Balms were hand-made with voluntary effort by the community residents. With a massage therapist and a naturopath part of the team, new recipes were created and the range increased to include balms for specific uses, as well as a range for all-over body massage. Thus, Massage Wax was born.


In 1994, Tui Balms became a registered co-operative society, and since 2008 they are also a registered charitable organisation operating as a not-for-profit business, each year donating the profits to registered charities.


In the 1990’s, while travelling through New Zealand, Andy Harrod stayed at Golden Bay and became part of the Tui Community where he lived and worked for a while. Having seen and experienced the benefits of natural balms and waxes for the skin, Andy was keen to introduce these products to the UK and Europe. He moved to the UK in 2001 and set up Tui Trading, which distributed Tui’s balms and waxes directly to the British market.  


In 2006, it was decided that it was preferable to make the products in the UK, rather than importing them all the way from New Zealand. A lighter carbon footprint, expansion into Australia, spiralling transport costs and a sincere desire to follow the maxim of 'think global; act local' were some of the reasons for this co-operative decision. So, with Tui’s blessing, Tui Trading became Songbird Naturals and we started manufacturing the balms and waxes in-house here in the UK with the same commitment to natural quality and ethical standards. Since then, we have developed our own product recipes and have chosen to specialise in the massage and therapy industry, but the original formula of Tui’s balms remain at the heart of our products.


While Tui and Songbird have grown into separate businesses with individual identities, we are still closely linked and talk frequently, regularly discussing new ideas and developments.


Tui Balms have been somewhat of a pioneer in the natural skincare market in New Zealand, with a strong reputation for gentle, natural massage and skincare products, coupled with their eco-friendly, sustainable and philanthropic business ethics. Their products can be found in over 500 retail outlets around New Zealand, as a must-have for any well-equipped family cupboard and in many therapeutic massage rooms. Today, Tui Balms provides local paid employment for around 15 part-time staff in rural Golden Bay.

From all of us here at Songbird Naturals, we wish Tui Balms a very happy 40th anniversary. Here's to the next 40 years!


Andy visiting Tui Balms and the Tui Community in New Zealand, 2018