Our Colony story starts in 1860, when Louisa emigrated from Prussia to New Zealand with her family. A few years later, Johan Hansen came to New Zealand (from Denmark) to dig for gold, among thousands of other hopeful pioneers.

Marrying Louisa in 1868 in the Bendigo goldfields of Central Otago and presenting her with a wedding ring cast from gold he had found in the Gabriel's Gully goldfield, Louisa and Johan moved to Thames to start their new life together.

That same year, 1868, Louisa, along with the Hansen Brothers (Johan and his brother Lars) set up their first merchant store in Pollen Street, Thames.

colony hansen heritage thames pollen 1868

The family became established and the business grew in the heart of the growing town, with Louisa well known in the area and considered a key member of the local community.

colony hansen heritage thames pollen

The family grew, with Louisa and Johan having ten children (three of which died young), and two of the surviving children (Louise and Waldemar) became beekeepers. Waldemar was also a vegetarian, and the traditions of natural health run deep in the family.

Since Waldemar's time, the honey business has remained a core part of the New Zealand family, and the passion for bees been passed down the generations through to today.

The family established a sustainable farming community called "Beeville" in the central North Island, built on principles of ethical and healthy living - well ahead of their time. Their strong values of conscientious objection were controversial at the time, with members of the family famously incarcerated during WWII alongside another well-known beekeeping family (Hillary).

hansen hautapu detention

Colony founder and resident "honeymeister", Kris Jansen is a 4th-generation bee fanatic who grew up with her own beekeeping family.

Growing up with such strong values and closeness to nature, and the bee in particular, has been a strong influence for Kris in the direction of Colony. Watching her father Robin work carefully with bees and talk of their importance and ecology has meant that it has always been about more than just honey.

colony honeymeisters beekeeping jansen

Kris opened her first store at Lindale, Kapiti in 1995, then her Honeymeisters store in Wellington in 2004.

Still producing a range of delicious honey's under the Honeymeisters, Ginger Bee and Beeville brands, while recently launching the "Rob's Heritage" range of spreads to acknowledge the family history, the "Colony" is expanding and gaining an international following.

In March 2021 (in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic), Plimmer (with a family history dating back to 1841 in Wellington) opened the Colony store at The Crossing in central Christchurch, subsequently taking over responsibility for Colony's retail and online operations.

We enjoy sharing our family history and adding our chapter as we continue the legacy of retailing New Zealand products and our own crafted honey to Kiwis old and new, and our international guests.