Massey University

Massey University
Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa
MottoFloreat scientia
Motto in English
Let knowledge flourish
Established1927; 97 years ago (1927)
EndowmentNZ$56 million (31 December 2021)
ChancellorMichael Ahie
Vice-ChancellorJan Thomas
Academic staff
Students27,533 (2022)
New Zealand
ColoursMassey triple colours

Massey University (Māori: Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa) is a university based in New Zealand, with significant campuses in Auckland, Palmerston North, and Wellington. Massey University has approximately 27,533 students, 18,358 of whom study either partly or fully by distance. Research is undertaken on all three campuses and people from over 130 countries study at the university. Data from the 2017 annual report shows that 42% of the domestic students are based in Auckland, 38% in Palmerston North and 20% in Wellington.

Massey is ranked among the top 250 universities in the world in Quacquarelli Symonds' (QS) 2023 ranking. Since 2023, Massey is among the top 100 universities in the Quacquarelli Symonds' (QS) sustainability 2023 ranking.

Massey University is the only university in New Zealand offering degrees in aviation and veterinary medicine. Massey Veterinary School is ranked 21th in the Quacquarelli Symonds' (QS) 2024 world university subject rankings. Massey University is also ranked 30th for Development Studies and 71th for Agriculture and Forestry.

The School of Built Environment offers multiple undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Construction and Built Environment, ranking among the top 150 schools in Architecture and Built Environment in the Quacquarelli Symonds' (QS) 2024 World University Subject Rankings. 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.


University of New Zealand

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.

In 1927 the Massey Agricultural College Act was passed, renaming the college Massey Agricultural College 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 Minister of Agriculture Oswald Hawken. The first woman to enrol was Enid Hills, who enrolled in 1932.

Independence and expansion

With the demise of the University of New Zealand 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.

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

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.

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

Chancellor Kelly's resignation

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." These remarks caused widespread outrage, with Kelly's apology via Twitter and Facebook doing little to calm the situation. Kelly resigned as Chancellor on 14 December 2016, and was replaced promptly by then Pro Chancellor Michael Ahie.

2018 Don Brash visit

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, cancelled the booking the student society had made to use university facilities. Thomas was widely criticised and calls were made for her resignation. The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern described canceling the event as an overreaction. 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. 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.


Since 2020, Massey University has been using an artificial intelligence remote exam monitoring tool called Remote Proctor Now (RPNow).

In 2023, Massey controversially proposed opening a campus in Singapore, aiming to have 5,000 students based offshore by 2026. The university’s plans to expand overseas while cutting jobs at home angered staff and students at a time when significant cost cutting was taking place under Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas. The university reported a loss estimated at $50 million as of October 2023, which had previously been reported as $33 million in September 2023 and at $14.2 million deficit in July 2023. Cuts, including reducing staff numbers in the schools of Natural Sciences and Food and Advanced Technology by around 60 per cent, were described as 'brutal' with Radio New Zealand reporting fears the plan puts the university into a death spiral.

On 14 December 2023, Massey University confirmed that it would lay off over 60 jobs at its College of Sciences as part of a restructure. On 18 December, Massey confirmed that it was planning to sell or lease NZ$151 million worth of property on its three campuses to address its financial problems. The affected properties include nine buildings at the Albany campus including lecture halls and a recreation centre, four buildings in Wellington, and nine in Manawatū including two student villages and farmland. Under the proposed sale, the university would sell of much of its Albany campus except the new science building.


Graduates in Wellington

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

New Zealand's first satellite, KiwiSAT was designed and built by New Zealand Radio Amateurs with the support of Massey, especially in space environment testing. "At the AMSAT-ZL Annual General Meeting in June, 2023 the group officially decided to dissolve and abandon plans for a luanch [sic] campaign."

Auckland campus (Ōtehā)

Part of Massey University's Albany Campus in 2005

Since 1993 the Ōtehā campus in Auckland 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 4,809 students are enrolled at Albany. This campus has grown since then and an on-campus accommodation facility opened in semester one 2015. On the Albany campus, a large golden chicken wing sculpture commemorates the site's history as a chicken farm.

Palmerston North campus (Manawatū)

Massey University was first established at the Turitea campus in Palmerston North, and hosts around 4,933 students annually.

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, the College of Health and 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.

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.

In 2019, Heritage New Zealand listed student hostel, Colombo Hall as a category 2 historic place. It was built in 1964.

In February 2023 the university announced that it would be building two solar farms on the Palmerston North campus, with a peak output of 7.87MW.

Wellington campus (Pukeahu)

The Pukeahu campus in Wellington campus was created through the merger with Wellington Polytechnic that was approved by the New Zealand Government and took place in 1999. 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.

The Pukeahu campus primarily specialises in Design (College of Creative Arts), Nursing and Communication and Journalism. It has over 2,812 students.


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

In the mid-2010s, the university 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).

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. The council oversees the management and control of the university's affairs, concerns and property.

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
1 George Fowlds 1927–1934
2 William Perry 1934–1935
3 Thomas Hunter 1936–1938
4 Arthur Morton 1938–1942
5 Grey Campbell 1943
6 Alan Candy 1944–1946
7 Gus Mansford 1947
8 Walter Dyer 1947–1959
9 Ned Holt 1960–1962
1 Jack Andrews 1963–1966
2 Blair Tennent 1967–1970
3 Les Gandar 1970–1975
4 Arthur Ward 1976–1980
5 Lindsay Wallace 1981–1984
6 Doug Easton 1985–1990
7 Hugh Williams 1991–1997
8 Morva Croxson 1998–2002
9 Nigel Gould 2003–2008
10 Russ Ballard 2009–2013
11 Chris Kelly 2013–2016
12 Michael Ahie 2016–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
1 Geoffrey Peren 1927–1958
1 Alan Stewart 1959–1963
1 Alan Stewart 1964–1983
2 Neil Waters 1983–1995
3 James McWha 1995–2002
4 Judith Kinnear 2003–2008
5 Steve Maharey 2008–2016
6 Jan Thomas 2017–present

Academic profile

Key facts

From 2022 Annual Report:

  • 3,092 staff
  • 27,533 students (16,847 EFTS)
  • 3,428 Māori students
  • 1,574 Pacific students
  • 320 women in leadership positions (47%)
  • 2 National Centres of Research Excellence (and numerous university-based Research Centres)
  • Hosts the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence

Academic rankings

University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World701–800 (2023)
QS World=239 (2024)
THE World501–600 (2024)
USNWR Global=598 (2023)
World university rankings
Year Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Academic Ranking of World Universities Times Higher Education
2023 239 701-800 501-600
2022 292 601-700 601-800
2020 287 701-800 501–600
2019 332 601–700 501–600
2018 316 501–600 401–500
2017 340 501–600 401–500
2016 501–600

Student life

Te Tira Ahu Pae

Te Tire Ahu Pae (TTAP) is the single association at Massey University's four campuses in Pāmamao – Distance, Ōtehā - Auckland, Manawatū - Palmerston North and Pukeahu - Wellington. In the new structure, there are a total of 23 student reps on the Te Tira Ahu Pae Student Executive with additional student reps in our alliance groups, Disability at Massey and the Rainbow and Takatāpui Advisory Group - RĀTĀ.[1]

Te Tire Ahu Pae provides both representation and student services to Massey University students, ensuring equivalent and equitable services are delivered to everyone. They are a registered charity and independent from the university.

The services TTAP delivers include:

  • Student Representation
  • Advocacy
  • Clubs and societies
  • Events
  • Media - Radio Control and Massive Magazine

Radio Control

Radio Control is a student radio station based on the Turitea campus.[citation needed] 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'.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] It has also provided an early platform for New Zealand artists like Benny Tipene, Avalanche City and Evermore.[citation needed]


Faculty and staff

Notable faculty, past or present, include:

Lockwood Smith

Notable alumni


Nathan Guy


Jo Aleh
Nathan Cohen


Kay Cohen

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of Massey University
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')

Honorary Doctors

Massey University have recognize the contribution of many national and international notable people with honorary doctorates since 1964. Among them, there is Peng Liyuan, the wife of the current Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This page was last updated at 2024-04-18 15:35 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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