Manuka expert Peter Molan dies

Dr Peter Molan's research 'added substantially to the value' of Kiwi honey, said a citation for a NZ Science and ...
BEN CURRAN/FAIRFAX NZ

Dr Peter Molan's research 'added substantially to the value' of Kiwi honey, said a citation for a NZ Science and Technology Silver Medal.

The man who uncovered the power of manuka honey has died.

Hamilton-based Dr Peter Molan's research identified honey's healing powers.

He "revolutionised the New Zealand honey industry", said the 2001 citation for his NZ Science and Technology silver medal.

'His honey work was his passion in life,' says Alyson Molan of husband Peter.
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'His honey work was his passion in life,' says Alyson Molan of husband Peter.

Molan died at home on September 16, aged 71.

The biochemist's wife Alyson had nursed him through illness, with help from Hospice Waikato.

Alyson was married to Peter for 24 years and initially thought his obsession with manuka honey would pass.

Far from it - and she benefited early in their married life when she spilled boiling water over her hand.

"He just bunged honey all over it, wrapped it up. And the bit that he missed wrapping, it had a huge blister. The rest of my hand was absolutely clear."

Peter was famous in the family for a manuka gel used for everything from teenagers' pimples to nappy rash.

People around the world made phone calls to his home, seeking advice.
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"He was kind, he was gentle. He had a good sense of humour. He was a little bit of a workaholic," Alyson said.

"His honey work was his passion in life. It wasn't only his passion, it was his hobby... That was what he loved to do."

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Peter spent 41 years as a University of Waikato lecturer, retiring in April 2014, and loved working with students, she said.

His research also took the Molans to events all over the globe, or brought budding scientists to be hosted at their home.

And strong ethical and moral principles saw him take risks to stand up for what he believed, Alyson said.

Manuka Health chief executive Kerry Paul, in a tribute speech at Molan's funeral, said he was a "shining knight on a crusade" when it came to companies he considered were selling falsely-labelled manuka honey.

Since Molan's discoveries manuka had been used to help many, including diabetics and people with hard-to-heal infected wounds.

"Not many people can look back on their lives and claim to have started a whole industry," Paul said.

Molan started looking into manuka honey in 1981.

He created the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating for honey but later set up the Molan Gold Standard.

The citation for his 1995 MBE said his work was the "single most important factor" in changing the perceived value of manuka honey.

But after winning a KuDos lifetime achievement award in 2013 Molan said he didn't actually like the manuka taste.

"The only time I ever eat it is if I've got a sore stomach."

 - Stuff

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