From Place To Face – Interview with Tamanu Australia

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Linda Schofield - Director Tamanu Australia

Linda Schofield – Director Tamanu Australia

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Meet Linda Schofield, a nature-loving, kind hearted businesswoman who works directly with Ni-Vanuatu farmers to source our decadent Tamanu Oil and Cacao Butter. Her company Tamanu Australia is based between NSW and the island of Santo in Vanuatu, where she visits the growers.

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Vanuatu - Photo Courtesy Tamanu Australia

Vanuatu – Photo Courtesy Tamanu Australia

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Their Tamanu Oil is superb. It’s a dark green, thick oil with a nutty, earthy and distinctly spicy aroma, and it simply can’t be beaten in terms of skin-feel luxuriousness.

The tamanu trees are ancient and native to Vanuatu where they grow abundantly along the beach shores. The Ni-Vanuatu wait to wild harvest the tamanu nuts, after they’ve fallen to the earth. They leave them to cure naturally in the sun prior to collecting and then pressing them for oil. This is highly unusual, as normally with other nuts, the pressing occurs almost immediately after harvesting to secure the most amount of oil. However Tamanu nuts develop up to half of their oil during this sun curing process, ensuring a higher oil yield for the growers. Did you know that it takes 4 mature trees to produce enough nuts to yield just 20 liters of oil? Hence its expense.

Skin-wise, Tamanu is a wonderfully healing oil. It is used to prevent inflammation, help heal scars and dimish their appearance, and it can be used to prevent blemishes as well as help them heal faster.

Their Cacao Butter is thick, rich and grown organically. The aroma of raw cacao is heavenly; exotic rich cocoa, evocative of the islands of the South Pacific.

Cacao Butter is packed full of anti-oxidants, particularly vitamin E. This helps to protect skin against the harsh environment by fighting free radicals and helping to strengthen your skin’s natural barrier. Cacao butter also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, pigmentation and brightens dull, dry skin because it is deeply moisturising and full of nutrients.

We hope you’ll love reading all about her story, and what it takes to produce these exquisite ingredients that end up in your hands, and on your skin… enjoy.

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Tamanu Trees on the Beach in Vanuatu - Photo courtesy Tamanu Australia

Tamanu Trees on the Beach in Vanuatu – Photo courtesy Tamanu Australia

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How long have you been partnering with the Ni-Vanuatu to source tamanu oil and cacao butter?

I have been sourcing the Tamanu and Cocoa Butter from the Ni-Vanuatu for approximately 6 1/2 years now.

What made you want to get into it in the first place. How did it all come about?

On first coming here in 2009, I noticed some very large trees growing wild along the beaches here in Santo. I recognised the leaves and flowers from a botanical watercolour painting I did over 20 years previously.

On asking what the tree was, I was informed it was the Tamanu Tree (Calophyllum Inophyllum) I had painted and that it was a traditional medicine for the skin used by the Ni-Vanuatu. Being a natural therapist I sourced a bottle of the oil and took it back home to Australia for further investigation.

The moment I smelt the earthy, rich aroma of the Tamanu Oil, I fell in love with it.

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 Beach Calophyllum- Tamanu Watercolour by Linda Scofield of Tamanu Australia

Beach Calophyllum- Tamanu Watercolour by Linda Scofield of Tamanu Australia

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Did the Ni-Vanuatu always grow “organically”, or if not, what made them change their ways?

Absolutely, as all indigenous cultures understand the value of growing naturally and in the seasons with nature.

To grow with chemicals is a concept not needed or understood.

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Ni-Vanuatu Child + Raw Cacao

Ni-Vanuatu Child + Raw Cacao

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How many days/weeks/years does it take to get these crops from planting to final product?

The Tamanu are ancient trees that have been here for many years. Once the nuts are collected by the local people it takes from 4-6 months to end up with the cold pressed oil after sun curing for several months before pressing.

The cocoa butter is a process in itself with soaking, fermenting and drying the beans before grinding. I am sourcing some fermented cocoa beans myself soon and will be attempting to make my own butter for the Tamanu Balm I make.

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Tamanu Nuts Curing in the Sun

Tamanu Nuts Curing in the Sun

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How big a part of your everyday life is buying organic?

Well, now that I am spending my life living in Vanuatu, it’s a naturally everyday part of my life, because everything is organic.

So many lovely mama’s markets full of fresh produce in season to visit.

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Ni-Vanuatuan Lady + Cacao Tree

Ni-Vanuatuan Lady + Cacao Tree

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What’s the best aspect of your job?

Being able to create a business where I trade with the local people of Vanuatu for their rich, healing produce, and my money is given directly back to them. So right from the source, where the locals pick up the Tamanu nuts for drying, I can have a positive impact on their lives.

Also being able to create a market for this truly amazing healing oil. In a world where many skincare products have little integrity, full of chemicals, all about the marketing business hype, the story I have here is one of integrity and connection.

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Ni-Vanuatuan Children Eating Raw Cacao

Ni-Vanuatuan Children Eating Raw Cacao

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Have you had any setbacks over the years?

Natural disasters as in Cyclone Pam two years ago, very much slowed the availability of Tamanu Oil. Different sources had to be found, many Tamanu trees were ripped from the ground and the drying nuts lost. Back on track now with a good supply coming through.

The cacao plantations were also badly hit and there has been a limited supply of cacao butter.

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Vanuatu Mangroves

Vanuatu Mangroves

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8.What do you personally use your tamanu oil and cacao butter for?

I use it for all my skin care requirements on a daily basis. I still feel luxurious when using them because I know where they are sourced from and how pure and healing they are. It’s like treating myself with the abundance of ingredients from the islands every day, and for that, I am grateful.

The cacoa butter is in the Tamanu Balm that I produce, really adds to the richness of the balm, all those beautiful fats! Not to mention the delicious smell!

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Tamanu Nuts - Watercolour by Linda Schofield

Tamanu Nuts – Watercolour by Linda Schofield

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Which country do you think has the best organic produce and why?

I believe any country where there is still a strong emphasis on growing traditionally, organically, naturally such as in the South Pacific.

Indigenous peoples of any country have the wisdom, skills and understanding of how to grow great produce.

Their knowledge of traditional medicine is something to be respected and learnt.

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Ancient Tamanu Tree Native to Vanuatu

Ancient Tamanu Tree Native to Vanuatu

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If you could inspire others to make one small change for their health and the environment, what would it be?

Pay attention to your diet… eat well and as unprocessed as possible. Use natural products on your skin. Be happy and grateful for this life.

If you could be any animal, what would you be, and why?

I am thinking of a bird, to be able to fly. A bird I feel great love for is the Australian Tawny Frogmouth. They stay as a family forever and are strong and spiritual birds.

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Australian Tawny Frogmouth

Australian Tawny Frogmouth


Australian Tawny Frogmouth Pair

Australian Tawny Frogmouth Pair

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Linda, and for working with such lovely people who produce such incredible raw, native ingredients.

If you would like to experience Tamanu Oil and Cacao Butter for yourself, they are both hand blended into our:

Lewin & Reilly – Zeolite Purity Mask.

Lewin & Reilly Organic Skin Care Zeolite Purity Mask - Made in New Zealand

Lewin & Reilly – Zeolite Purity Mask – Made on Waiheke Island, New Zealand

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Available to purchase here now.

Thanks for reading! And we look forward to bringing you more of our growers stories, so that you know exactly what’s going onto your skin, and where it came from.

Kim & Andi

aka Lewin & Reilly X