Waihi Bush was originally settled by David Musgrave's family in the 1870's, when the Woodbury area was a significant source of native timber. Fortunately, 15 ha of virgin native bush were retained on the property and this is now the only remaining example left on the Canterbury Plains. It includes many magnificent totara, matai and kahikatea over 1000 years old, several over 8 metres in girth. With help from their Jack Russell - Phoebe, they have managed to get pests like possums, feral cats, rats and ferrets down to very low levels, which are reflected in high levels of native birds like kereru (native pigeon) bell birds, fantails and grey warblers.
The bush has been permanently protected by a QEII Trust covenant since David purchased the property from the family trust in the early 80's. By a quirk of history, David's youngest son Oliver is the only child to be brought up from birth on Waihi Bush since it was first settled. Oliver developed serious eczema as a child, which was cured by some imported flax seed oil. See Oliver's Story. David then set out to research the science behind the effects of flax seed oil on health and how to produce and maintain the quality of the delicate oil.
David started pressing flax seed oil at Waihi Bush Organic Farm in 1993, using a tiny press that made about 30 litres a day, with imported technology to protect the delicate oil from damage during manufacture. The first line of seed pressed was from Jim More - the farmer featured on the Country Calendar programme in 2006.
Waihi Bush Organic Farm became Bio-Gro Certified Organic in 1988 and the first flax seed crop was grown there in 1994. Seed-eating birds love flax seed, so with all the trees on Waihi Bush, bird predation has always been a problem. This first crop should have produced about 100 tonnes of seed, but a long spell of bad weather when the harvest was about to start, meant that the birds ate all but five tonnes.
Within three years the oil volumes had grown and David went into partnership with two of his sons.
By 2002 the 100-year-old stable building on the farm, which housed the operation was bulging at the seams. The whole operation was moved into larger premises in Kennedy Street, Geraldine and the company name was changed to Functional Whole Foods New Zealand Ltd.
The company has a strong culture of research and development, with emphasis on developing customised blends, based on a sound understanding of the current nutritional science.