Massey University

Massey University (Māori: Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa) is a university based in Palmerston North, New Zealand, with significant campuses in Albany and Wellington. Massey University has approximately 30,883 students, 13,796 of whom are extramural or distance-learning students, making it New Zealand's second largest university when not counting international students. Research is undertaken on all three campuses, and more than 3,000 international students from over 100 countries study at the university.[5]

Massey University
Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa
MottoFloreat scientia
Motto in English
Let knowledge flourish
EndowmentNZ$56 million (31 December 2021)[1]
ChancellorMichael Ahie[2]
Vice-ChancellorJan Thomas
Academic staff
3,311 (2017)[3]
Students30,883 (2017)[4]
New Zealand
ColoursMassey triple colours

Massey University is the only university in New Zealand offering degrees in aviation, dispute resolution, veterinary medicine, and nanoscience. Massey's veterinary school is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association and is recognised in the United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain. Massey's agriculture programme is the highest-ranked in New Zealand, and 19th in Quacquarelli Symonds' (QS) world university subject rankings.[6] Massey's Bachelor of Aviation (Air Transport Pilot) is an internationally recognised and accredited qualification, is the first non-engineering degree to be recognised by the Royal Aeronautical Society (1998), and has ISO9001-2000 accreditation.


The New Zealand Agricultural College Act of 1926 laid the foundation for the sixth college of the University of New Zealand (UNZ). It allowed for the amalgamation of the agricultural schools of Victoria University College in Wellington and Auckland University College to establish the New Zealand Agricultural College.[7]

In 1927 the Massey Agricultural College Act was passed, renaming the college Massey Agricultural College[8] after former New Zealand Prime Minister William Fergusson Massey, who died in 1925 and had been vigorous in land reform efforts. The Massey Agricultural College Council first met on 1 February 1927, and the Batchelar property, near the present Turitea site, was purchased that June. The college was officially opened for tuition on 20 March 1928 by O. J. Hawkin.[9] The first woman to enrol was Enid Hills, who enrolled in 1932.[10]

With the demise of the UNZ in 1961, it became Massey College, and associated closer with Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) until full autonomy could be gained. In 1960 a branch of VUW, the Palmerston North University College (PNUC), was established in Palmerston North to teach humanities and social studies subjects as well as provide distance education, known then as extramural study. On 1 January 1963 PNUC amalgamated with Massey College to form Massey University College of Manawatu. The Massey University Act 1963 granted Massey full autonomy and university status with degree conferring powers from 1 January 1964, as well as a new name, Massey University of Manawatu. Its present name was adopted in 1966.[11][9]

Inaugurated with a tree planting ceremony in 1993, classes began at Massey's Albany campus that same year.[12]

In December 2010 Massey announced that the Wellington campus would close its School of Engineering and Advanced Technology the next month. Students were offered places at either the Albany or Manawatū campuses with compensation, but those who could not make the move and chose to undertake their degree elsewhere were given no compensation, and only a few papers were able to be cross-credited.[13]

The College of Health was launched in February 2013 [14] with three broad goals: promoting health and wellbeing, disease and injury prevention and protecting people and communities from environmental risks to health.

In December 2016, the Chancellor of the university, Chris Kelly, caused outrage by making several comments in a rural newspaper regarding the gender of those in the veterinarian profession. While outlining changes that were being made to the structure of the university's veterinarian and agricultural degrees, Kelly said that more women passed the first year of the veterinarian degree "because women mature earlier than men, work hard and pass. Whereas men find out about booze and all sorts of crazy things during their first year... That’s fine, but the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a full-time equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family, which is normal."[15] These remarks caused widespread outrage,[16] with Kelly's apology via Twitter and Facebook doing little to calm the situation.[17] Kelly resigned as Chancellor on 14 December 2016, and was replaced promptly by then Pro Chancellor Michael Ahie.[18]

In August 2018 Don Brash, a former Leader of the Opposition, was due to speak at the university following an invitation of the Massey University Politics Society. Citing security concerns, Jan Thomas, the Vice Chancellor of Massey University, canceled the booking the student society had made to use university facilities.[19] Thomas was widely criticised[20][21] and calls were made for her resignation.[22] The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern described canceling the event as an overreaction.[23] A review by Massey University's Council subsequently cleared Thomas of wrongdoing, with Chancellor Michael Ahie stating that the Council supported and had full confidence in Professor Thomas.[24] Massey University's Māori staff association Te Matawhānui publicly spoke out in support of Thomas, particularly due to her leadership of Massey as a te Tiriti-led university.[24]


Graduates in Wellington

Massey University has campuses in the Manawatū at Palmerston North, at Wellington (in the suburb of Mt Cook) and on Auckland's North Shore at Albany. In addition, Massey offers most of its degrees extramurally within New Zealand and internationally. It has the nation's largest business college. Research is undertaken on all three campuses.

New Zealand's first satellite, KiwiSAT is currently being designed and built by New Zealand Radio Amateurs with the support of Massey, especially in space environment testing.

Manawatū Campus

Manawatu campus in 2017.

Massey University was first established at the Turitea campus in Palmerston North, and hosts around 9,000 students annually.[25]

The Turitea site houses the main administrative units of Massey University as well as the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Sciences, and the Massey Business School. It is also home to the only Veterinary School in New Zealand. Massey University acquired a smaller second campus in Palmerston North in Hokowhitu when it merged with the Palmerston North College of Education in 1996, which was combined with the existing Faculty of Education to form Massey University's College of Education. In 2013 the Institute of Education was formed as part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Hokowhitu Campus was later sold in 2016 after the institute was relocated to the Turitea campus.[26]

Wharerata, Palmerston North

Wharerata is a historic colonial home built in 1901 and surrounded by formal gardens and mature trees. It housed the staff social club until the late 1990s, and is now used as a cafe, function centre and wedding venue.[27]

Auckland Campus

Part of Massey University's Albany Campus in 2005

Since 1993 the Auckland campus in Albany has grown rapidly in a fast developing part of Auckland's North Shore City. Science and Business are the two largest colleges on the campus with the College of Science housing the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study solely on the campus. Around 7,000 students are enrolled at Albany.[28] This campus has grown since then and an on-campus accommodation facility opened in semester one 2015.[29] On the Albany campus, a large golden chicken wing sculpture commemorates the site's history as a chicken farm.[30]

Wellington Campus

The Wellington campus was created through the merger with Wellington Polytechnic that was approved by the New Zealand Government and took place in 1999.[31] The history of Wellington Polytechnic goes back to 1886 when the Wellington School of Design was established, it had a name change in 1891 to Wellington Technical School and in 1963 it was divided into Wellington Polytechnic and Wellington High School.[32]

Part of Massey Wellington sits inside the Dominion Museum building. The Wellington campus primarily specialises in Design (College of Creative Arts), Nursing, and Communication and Journalism. It has over 4,000 students.[28]


Extramural study first began in 1960 and Massey University is New Zealand's largest and pre-eminent provider of distance education.[33] Massey is known for its flexible learning and innovative delivery options and this tradition continues in the use of blended and online learning.

The university, in the mid-2010s, embarked on a major project to further digitise its distance delivery and in 2015 adopted Moodle (branded as Stream) as its new Learning Management System (LMS).[34][35]

The Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2019 further spurred investment in digital distance education.


The governing body of Massey Agricultural College, and Massey College, was the Council (known as the Board of Governors, between 1938 and 1952). Massey University is governed by the University Council.[36] The council oversees the management and control of the institution's affairs, concerns and property.[37]

The following table lists those who have held the position of Chair of the Board of Governors of the college and later Chancellor of the university, being the ceremonial head of the institution.

Name Portrait Term
Chair of the Board of Governors
1George Fowlds1927–1934
2William Perry1934–1935
3Thomas Hunter1936–1938[38]
4Arthur Morton1938–1942
5Grey Campbell1943
6Alan Candy1944–1946
7Gus Mansford1947
8Walter Dyer1947–1959
9Ned Holt1960–1962[39]
1Jack Andrews1963–1966
2Blair Tennent1967–1970
3Les Gandar1970–1975
4Arthur Ward1976–1980
5Lindsay Wallace1981–1984
6Doug Easton1985–1990
7Hugh Williams1991–1997
8Morva Croxson1998–2002
9Nigel Gould2003–2008
10Russ Ballard2009–2013[40]
11Chris Kelly2013–2016[41]
12Michael Ahie2016–present

The following table lists those who have held the position of principal of the college and later vice-chancellor of the university, being the chief executive officer of the institution.

Name Portrait Term
1Geoffrey Peren1927–1958[42]
1Alan Stewart1959–1963[43]
1Alan Stewart1964–1983[44]
2Neil Waters1983–1995[45]
3James McWha1995–2002[46]
4Judith Kinnear2003–2008[47]
5Steve Maharey2008–2016[48]
6Jan Thomas2017–present[49]

Academic profile

Key facts

From 2008 Annual Report:[50]

  • $374 million operating revenue
  • $57 million external research and contract funding
  • 3127 staff (full-time Equivalent)
  • 33,905 students (19,432 EFTS)
  • 27251 undergraduate students (15,070 EFTS)
  • 7212 postgraduate students (3,428 EFTS)
  • 1046 doctorate students (934 EFTS)
  • 112 doctoral completions
  • 3384 Māori students
  • 895 Pasifika students
  • 2447 students with disabilities
  • 2 National Centres of Research Excellence (and numerous University-based Research Centres)
  • Hosts the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence
  • The university has almost 100 formal academic arrangements with overseas institutions
  • Massey is the 10th largest user of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in New Zealand

Academic rankings

University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[51]601–700 (2019)
QS World[52]287 (2020)
THE World[53]501–600
World university rankings
Year Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)[54][55] Academic Ranking of World Universities Times Higher Education
2020 287 501–600
2019 332 601–700 501–600
2018 316 501–600 401–500
2017 340 501–600 401–500
2016 501–600

Student life

Massey University Students' Association

The Massey University Students' Association Federation (MUSAF) represents the student bodies at Massey University. It includes the Albany Students' Association (ASA), Massey [Manawatu] Students Association (MUSA), Massey at Wellington Students' Association (MAWSA), Manawatahi, Te Waka o Ngā Ākonga Māori, and the Massey Extramural Students' Society (EXMSS). Each individual students' association organises activities and support for its members, sometimes organising student events, publicising student issues, administering student facilities and assisting affiliated student clubs and societies.

The Albany Students' Association, incorporated in 1998, represents students at Albany campus. It is the only student association in Auckland with full membership of the New Zealand Union of Students' Associations.[56] The ASA operates Evolution Bar and runs annual events like the first semester Orientation festival, second semester Winterfest, Woman's fest, Political Awareness Day and Boys Will Be Boys event. It previously published the fortnightly Satellite Magazine, which was awarded second for best small publication in the 2006 ASPA awards. In 2012 the magazine was replaced with a cross-campus magazine called Massive.

MAWSA was originally known as WePSA (Wellington Polytechnic Students' Association) and was incorporated in 1975. It became MAWSA and a member of MUSAF when Massey University established its Wellington Campus. MAWSA publishes Massive Magazine, the national student magazine for all Massey University Campuses.[57]

Radio Control

The Palmerston North arm of the student association operates Radio Control, a student radio station based on the Turitea campus. It broadcasts on 99.4 FM, transmitting from an aerial on campus, and streams online. The station was founded in 1981 as 'Masskeradio' and has also been known as 'Radio Massey'. Radio Control's long-time station mascot Gordon the Dinosaur stood to become the Palmerston North MP, promising to build a moving walkway from the city centre to the university campus.

The station is run by paid staff and volunteers, with general interest shows between 07:00 and 19:00, and specialist local music and genre-based shows at night. Radio Control is funded by NZ on Air and the university and regularly hosts live events and broadcasts from various events both on and off the Massey University campus. It has also provided an early platform for New Zealand artists like Benny Tipene, Avalanche City and Evermore.


Faculty and staff

Notable faculty, past or present, include:

  • Fiona Alpass
  • Marti Anderson (statistician)
  • Kingsley Baird
  • Helen Moewaka Barnes
  • Rosemary E. Bradshaw
  • Dianne Brunton
  • Barbara Burlingame
  • Paul Callaghan
  • Marta Camps
  • Brian Carpenter
  • Kerry Chamberlain
  • Ashraf Choudhary
  • Shane Cotton
  • Anne de Bruin
  • John Dunmore
  • Mary Earle
  • Craig Harrison
  • Joel Hayward
  • Darrin Hodgetts
  • Jill Hooks
  • Ingrid Horrocks
  • Joanne Hort
  • Mike Joy
  • Vicki Karaminas
  • Hugh Kawharu
  • Sarah Leberman
  • Steve Maharey
  • Gaven Martin
  • Stuart McCutcheon
  • Robert McLachlan
  • Jane Mills
  • Caroline Miller
  • Mary Morgan-Richards
  • Anne Noble
  • David Officer
  • W. H. Oliver
  • Farah Palmer
  • David Parry
  • Diane Pearson
  • David Penny
  • Geoffrey Peren
  • Peter Schwerdtfeger
  • Nicolette Sheridan
  • Lockwood Smith
  • David Stenhouse
  • Christine Stephens
  • Marilyn Waring
  • John Stuart Yeates




Kay Cohen
  • Fiona Alpass — full professor at the Massey University.
  • Kay Cohen (born 1952) – fashion designer
  • Catherine Day – biochemist (BSc and PhD)
  • Robert Holmes à Court (1937–1990) – businessman (BAgSci, forestry)
  • Susan Kemp – social work academic
  • Alan Kirton (1933–2001) – agricultural scientist (BAgrSc and MAgSc)
  • Phil Lamason – WWII RNZAF pilot[60]
  • Kyle Lockwood – architectural designer, designer of the Silver fern flag (DipDArch and DipArchTech)
  • Ross McEwan – banker, CEO of National Australia Bank[61]
  • Claire McLachlan – professor, specialist in early-childhood literacy[62]
  • Simon Moutter – engineer, businessman (BSc, physics)
  • Craig Norgate – businessman
  • Sir Alan Stewart (1917–2004) – founding vice-chancellor of Massey
  • Richard Taylor – special effects technician
  • Stephen Tindall – businessman
  • Saffronn Te Ratana – artist
  • Lucy Easthope - researcher

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of Massey University[63]
On a wreath of the colours issuant from flames proper a ram's head argent horned and ensigned by the horns of the African long legged ram.
Gyronny of ten argent and azure a mullet gules ambriated argent and irradiated or.
Floreat scientia (Latin: 'Let knowledge flourish')

See also

  • List of honorary doctors of Massey University


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OWENS, J.M.R. Campus Beyond the Walls: The First 25 Years of Massey University's Extramural Programme Palmerston North, Dunmore Press Ltd., 1985. (ISBN 0864690479) Available free from Massey at

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