Founders Story: Meet Paul and Sheryl Steens

Introducing the founders of Steens 
With over 40 years of ethical beekeeping experience

Paul and Sheryl are a hearty, passionate couple who bring high energy into every room. Bursts of laughter are frequent and infectious, and they bounce off each other when telling stories or making jokes about day to day occurrences. Sheryl often comes with a home baked galette or cake made from fruits from their garden, organic ingredients and always sweetened with honey (never refined sugar), and Paul always arrives with a twinkle in his eye and a block of dark chocolate in his pocket.

With a passion for learning and the arts it’s no surprises Sheryl is back studying an art degree. Her background is in teaching, and her caring nature is evidenced most of all around children, who seem to bring out an even more joyous side of her usual effervescent and vivacious self. Her current pastime is creating things from clay, and in true Sheryl style, the clay she chooses to work with is not just the smooth orange stuff you would find in a craft shop, but a range of different textures and shades.  Her love for all things natural and organic don’t  just stop at food, but also when making her clay vessels, where she chooses to glaze and colour with non -toxic finishes. Sheryl sells her creations out of her studio at home, which is decorated with a beautiful old vine hanging from the ceiling, along with past creations, books, wooden tables and her favourite pieces.

Paul is also an ardent reader and researcher, and his knowledge of beekeeping would be difficult to be surpassed after forty years of learning and hands on experience. Paul is the go-to Master Beekeeper at Steens, and any questions anyone has around honey and bees are directed towards him, with an always enthusiastic and thorough response. It was Paul and Sheryl’s combined ardour for natural sustenance and the incredible power that eating well has on a person’s health and wellbeing, that lead them to investigate how they could extract their beautiful honey from the hive without altering it in any way. They wanted their family to be able to enjoy the goodness of the honey removing only the large wax particles from the honey comb. A thinker by nature, Paul, along with his brother invented the unique extraction machine for the Steens’ to meet this goal they had set for themselves. This invention lead to the beginning of Steens Honey, and is also the reason Steens Raw Manuka Honey has up to 15 times more bio-available bee pollen and bee bread than other brands.

‘It truly is a wonderful thing to be able to produce this honey and share its goodness with the world.  It still is quite surreal that the honey we make and eat is shared with others  both at home and across the globe and has the ability to not only be simply enjoyed but can heal and improve lives.’

The moment you step inside Paul and Sheryl’s home in the Papamoa Hills in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand, you notice pottery, books, plants galore and beautiful items that have been gathered over the years because the pair have fallen in love with them.

‘The Clay Shed’ is where Paul and Sheryl often enjoy their meals, as Paul comes in from the farm where he looks after their cattle, and Sheryl will put together a salad or cooked meal using the delicacies from their organically grown garden. Their diet is plant based, so having a large garden packed full of fruit and vegetables goes a long way to keeping them fed. One of Sheryl’s many pleasures is sitting with Paul as they look out over the view of the pacific ocean from their hillside property and enjoy their lunch. In the weekends, Sheryl loves a glass of bubbles or two and Paul enjoys his cigar. Life is after all, about balance.

‘We make every Friday, Saturday and Sunday extra special days, doing really simple things. We find a spot in the garden and dine outside, in winter we light one of the outdoor fires. The music goes on and we really relax, taking time together.’

The pair have a large extended family with (now grown) children who mostly live nearby and are always popping in, spending time. They each have their own veggie plots and the sharing of knowledge and surplus food between the families is always rewarding for the pair. Their grandkids are weekly visitors and are adored, they are always busy creating, playing chess with Opa (Paul),  jumping in the pool, wandering on the farm, and joining Sheryl as she talks about the garden, helping to plant and then harvest the seasonal rewards.

‘We love being with family, watching the grandkids grow and learn, they are so much fun to be with. We both love being outdoors in nature with them, Paul loves being with the cattle, working the farm, maintaining tracks and having the grandkids with him. 

Of all things when you visit Paul and Sheryl’s home or attend one of the many dinner parties or Clay Shed events in the expansive and beautifully kept gardens, you get the sense that there are four main priorities in their lives: Nurturing their family, their passion for nature and all the wonders it has to offer, creativity, and inclusivity. These priorities also build the pillars of the Steens Honey brand and are pivotal to all of the decisions made for the company.

With forty years of experience under their belts, Paul and Sheryl still feel that they are learning every day when it comes to their business but their main priority is and always has been providing the very best quality Manuka Honey to their family, friends and customers because they are acutely aware of the incredible properties it has.

Learn more about Steens Honey Raw extraction methods

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