Massey University gets behind COVID-19 effort

Thursday 9 April 2020

Staff across Massey University are using their expertise and passion to support New Zealand's nationwide effort against COVID-19.

Sean Rasmussen

Sean Rasmussen printing face shields for frontline workers at the engineering workshop in Albany, Auckland.

Last updated: Friday 25 November 2022

Staff across Massey University are using their expertise and passion to support New Zealand’s nationwide effort against COVID-19.

From staff providing expertise to the Government to deploying Massey’s facilities and donating supplies – the spirit of working together in a time of struggle is thriving across Massey.

Staff at the School of Food and Advanced Technology in Auckland are utilising Massey’s 3D printers to create face shields for first responders and frontline workers, and have already delivered 300 shields to grateful doctors, nurses and staff in COVID-19 testing centres. Staff in Manawatū are joining the ShieldsUp initiative too, and putting their 3D printers to work.

Many Massey academics are using their research expertise to advise government and industry on the COVID-19 pandemic. Director of Research at the School of Veterinary Science Professor Nigel French is heavily involved in several committees and advisory groups, including the Ministry of Health’s technical advisory group epidemiology subgroup. Professor French is providing advice and expert comment on epidemiological matters arising from the COVID-19 response.

He is also in a pan-university COVID-19 diagnostic development working group, and is co-director of the research centre One Health Aotearoa, which has been providing advice and technical support to the government and responding to media requests. 

The New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre, hosted by Massey University, has been supporting the food industry with technical advice on how to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission both to food and food workers.

Director Dr Catherine McLeod says the risk of transmission via food has been examined in detail by the Centre’s experts, and is currently considered to be very unlikely. In addition to technical reports, the Centre has facilitated a webinar Q&A session with scientific and government experts to advise the food industry on how to implement the stringent requirements of Level 4 in the food production and processing environment.

Massey University Fonterra-Riddet Chair of Consumer and Sensory Science Professor Joanne Hort is one of more than 500 experts from 38 countries investigating the link between COVID-19 and smell loss. Professor Hort has partnered with an Otago University researcher to conduct a survey of New Zealanders with COVID-19, to contribute to building a global picture of the links between a person’s loss of taste and smell, and the virus.

Sharing knowledge with the nation

Group leader academic at the School of Veterinary Science Professor David Hayman has become a source of expert commentary in the media given his research and expertise into why and how novel, globally-important pathogens emerge and how they’re caused. Professor Hayman is also working with the Centre of Research Excellence Te Punaha Matatini.

Other academics providing important information through the media include Pro-Vice Chancellor of College of Health Professor Jane Mills, Dr Claire Matthews, Dr Faraz Hasan, Dr Siautu Alefaio, Associate Professor Chris Wilkins, Associate Professor Andy Towers, Associate Professor Johnathan Elms, Dr Ian de Terte and many more.

Professor in Mathematical Biology Mick Roberts has fielded many media interviews and is developing a suite of models for the transmission and control of the SARS-COV-2 virus and COVID-19 disease. He is acting in an advisory capacity for the modelling by Te Punaha Matatini, and is collaborating with the group based at Melbourne University providing modelling for the Australian government.

The College of Science has donated supplies of lab chemicals which can be used to make sanitisers and disinfectants to MidCentral District Health Board, and is in talks with human diagnostic laboratories exploring mechanisms to support COVID-19 laboratory testing.

Massey's contributions continue to evolve and we will continue sharing our community's efforts. If you would like to be recognised please contact