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Massey at Fieldays: leading a sustainable future


Massey University’s Fieldays stand

When people walk onto Massey University’s Fieldays stand asking what is being sold, Professor Chris Anderson is quick to reply, “we’re selling your future”.

Massey University welcomed hundreds of people onto its sites across the four days, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Climate Change James Shaw, senior executives from primary industry businesses, farmers, secondary school students and children.

Professor in Environmental Science Chris Anderson says the interactive elements of the main pavilion stand lured people in, including the offering of Little ‘Lato, a boutique gelato business founded by food technology alumni Hannah Wood.

“We were able to capture people who are interested in science and say, ‘go grab some gelato and come back’ and then we talk them through understanding our farm systems, assigning practices that suit the environment, and then thinking about where we do things on the farm that will achieve all the sustainability goals we’ve got.

“We got them excited by thinking about science and how science is part of understanding the problem. Then we can get away from just being focused on the issues and actually focus on solutions.”

Raising awareness of link between hearing loss and early dementia

In the Health and Wellness Hub Associate Professor Wyatt Page was educating people of all ages about safe volume levels – a pertinent topic for both farmers using loud machinery and young people listening to devices.

“Research has recently shown a strong connection between hearing loss and early dementia, which is something we didn’t know five years ago.

“There are probably a lot of male farmers here in particular that will do all sorts of things and forget about their hearing issues until they’re really having problems – but addressing it early on is likely to offset an increased risk of getting dementia.” 

He says lots of people were interested because sound and volumes are relatable to everyone.

“Everyone has a pair of ears and the only solution we have if your hearing gets damaged in some way is hearing aids and they’re a poor substitute for preserving your hearing. This is about raising awareness to people of all ages to be aware of safe volume levels.”


Hannah Wood, founder of Little 'Lato

A sweet success

Massey alumni and owner of Little ‘Lato’ Hannah Wood scooped 400 litres of gelato over the four days and says attendees’ interest in gelato far exceeded her expectation.

“I came thinking it wasn’t going to be my target market but so many people have been engaged and my goal is to keep getting more and more people tasting it.”

People were asking what the connection to Massey was and she says it was her degree – a Bachelor of Food Technology that got her into the food industry and Massey’s E-Centre sprint programme that helped her to learn the skills to begin a business. With five stores in Auckland and Rotorua already, her next goal is to sell online and in boutique grocers.

“I want to get everyone knowing what gelato is and to love it more than ice cream.”

She’s a former finalist in the New Zealand Food Awards and has entered again this year. “You’ve got to be in to win!”


Professor of Robotics Johan Potegiter and Robotics engineer and MAF Digital Lab Masters student Heath Ascott-Evans

Robots and the future of education and food

Professor of Robotics Johan Potegiter says people also wanted to know where they could buy the Farm Bot – a robot which plants, feeds, seeds and weeds. It was a prototype and not for sale, so he used it as an opportunity to raise awareness about education in robotics and the food sector.

“They kept saying ‘where can I buy this thing?’ and I kept reminding them they’re not buying ‘this thing’, they’re buying science and education so young people can learn and know this [robot] and work in their companies in the future.”

He says Massey’s robots, showcased on different sites, reflects the partnerships the university has with a range of organisations in the science sector, as well its ability to commercialise products.

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