In the early days of the veterinary profession in New Zealand, veterinarians were largely expatriates from the UK, or, in the 1940s and 1950s, were Kiwi graduates who had studied in Australian universities. By the 1960’s, it was clear that these arrangements would no longer meet the needs of the profession, and that New Zealand needed its own veterinary school. It was decided that Massey Agricultural College would be the site of the new school and, in 1962, the veterinary faculty was founded, under the leadership of its foundation dean, Ira Cunningham. The first students were enrolled in 1963 and, in 1964, the College became Massey University. Massey University remains the only university in New Zealand with a veterinary degree programme.
A major revision of the academic units of Massey University in 1998 brought the Veterinary Faculty, animal sciences and biomedical sciences together into the Institute of Veterinary, Animal & Biomedical Sciences. This academic juxtaposition of animal, agricultural, biomedical and veterinary sciences brought immediate benefits in terms of creating a ‘seamless’ inclusion of animal sciences into the veterinary degree and, interestingly, it has also had a useful flow through of animal health into the agriculture and animal sciences arenas. Research has, of course, blossomed from people of different disciplines working together: IVABS now hosts OIE Collaborating Centres for Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health, and for Animal Welfare Science and Bioethical Analysis (Asia, the Far East and Oceania); and has internationally recognized research groups in sheep production and health, and infectious diseases. In 2010, the strength of Massey University in infectious diseases and epidemiology was also recognized by it being chosen by the World Bank as its partner for international education programme to train Asian public health specialists and veterinarians to counter global epidemics.
The degree is, by choice, an undergraduate degree, taking a significant proportion of its entrants from students who are in their first year of university study. There were 21 graduates, all ‘Kiwis’ in the first cohort in 1968: today, there are just over a hundred students in each class, of whom 75 come from New Zealand and the others from a wide range of countries – especially North America and South-East Asia. The focus of the veterinary programme has always been strongly upon livestock, reflecting the importance of livestock products in the national economy of New Zealand. The veterinary profession mirrors this importance of livestock as, whilst companion animal practice is important in the larger cities, the majority of veterinary practitioners still work in rural, mixed practice.
Massey University prides itself that the majority of practitioners in New Zealand are its alumni and that its graduates are well-regarded at home and overseas; and that it has increased New Zealand’s agricultural capability, improved the lives of our companion animals, helped save endangered native species, and advised on major infectious diseases of significance to New Zealand and the world. The international standing of its veterinary degree was attested by its recognition by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for registration of its graduates in the UK since 1975, by the Australasian Veterinary Schools Accreditation Committee and the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE) from 1996, and by becoming the first veterinary school in the Southern Hemisphere to be accredited by the AVMA (2001).
- Government agrees to opening a veterinary school.
- Government awards the veterinary school to Massey Agricultural College.
- Council of Massey College appoints Ira Cunningham as foundation Dean.
- Staff appointed including Chairs of the three departments
(Veterinary Biology: Donald Titchen, Animal Health: Maurice Lancaster,
Veterinary Clinical Services: Des Fielden).
First intake of 51
students admitted into Veterinary Science Intermediate year. Teaching
begins in World War II army mess huts.
- Massey Agricultural College is incorporated as Massey University.
Work begins on permanent buildings.
- Clinical services begin. Large animal patients come from Massey University farms and Rongotea Veterinary Club.
- First stage of the veterinary building complex is completed and opened by Governor General Sir Arthur Porritt.
First 21 veterionarians graduate, including one woman.
- First postgraduates graduate.
- Duke of Edinburgh visits Massey University.
- Veterinary ‘tower’ completed
- Examiners from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, London, visit to appraise teaching standards.
- Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons cements Faculty of Veterinary
Science's academic reputation by validating the BVSc programme. This
gives Massey graduates automatic registration in RCVS and the right to
work in UK.
- First Code for Ethical Research on Animals is drawn up.
- New horse-handling facility is completed.
- Des Fielden appointed Dean.
- Women students outnumber men for the first time. In a ‘bathroom
changeover’, the female amenities become the male and vice versa.
- Lady and Sir David Beattie, the Governor General of New Zealand, visits the Veterinary School
- Centre for Veterinary Continuing Education established.
- Animal Health Services Centre established to improve links between
animal health industries and the veterinary faculty.
- Equine Blood
Typing and Research Centre established as a joint venture between Massey
and NZ Racing Conference, to provide blood-typing service for the
- Faculty of Veterinary Science
celebrates its 25th Jubilee with a conference on advances in veterinary
science, and a November graduation instead of the traditional May
- Best Friend Feline Nutritional Research Unit
established to research nutritional requirements of cats. It later
becomes the Centre for Feline Nutrition.
- Ministry of
Education enquiry concludes that funding given to university for vet
science students is inadequate, and recommends a substantial increase
which comes into effect in 1997.
- The Large Animal Teaching Unit opens
in Turitea Valley, with 40 hectares of grazing land and animal handling
facilities. This facility has remained the centerpiece of food animal
- Two-year Diploma in Veterinary Nursing offered in
conjunction with Manawatu Polytechnic. Twenty students enroll on first
- Faculty of Veterinary Sciences accredited by
Australasian Veterinary Schools Accreditation Committee (AVSAC) and the
European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education.
the German wire-haired pointer becomes first dog in New Zealand to
receive a pacemaker at Small Animal Clinic, in a pioneering operation.
- Veterinary, animal and medical laboratory sciences are brought
together as the Institute of Veterinary, Animal & Biomedical
Sciences (IVABS) following a university-wide restructure.
Guilford is appointed first Head of IVABS and becomes first Massey
veterinary graduate to be appointed head of veterinary education at
- The EpiCentre is established and the Animal
Welfare Science and the Bioethics Centre is founded.
- The New Zealand
Wildlife Health Centre is opened.
- Accreditation of the BVSc programme by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Wildlife ward opened at Veterinary Teaching Hospital, with Brett Gartrell as first clinical wildlife veterinarian.
- Massey University opens New Zealand’s only equine high-performance centre.
Small Animal Clinic upgraded and extended; the building is a regional finalist in Innovate NZ 2004 Awards.
A new BVSc curriculum is introduced, in which final-year students select species-based clinical tracks.
- Equine and Farm Services building opened by the Minister of Agriculture, Jim Anderton.
- New Zealand suffers an acute shortage of veterinarians,
particularly in rural areas. A new Bachelor of Veterinary Technology
degree is introduced to increase rural technical expertise.
- State-of-the-art Computed Technology (CT) scanner installed in
Veterinary Teaching Hospital in partnership with Landcorp. The scanner
is the only one in veterinary practice in New Zealand. The first patient
is ‘Sydney’, an 8-year-old gelding with a cyst in his foot.
- Government introduces a rural bonding scheme for graduates who stay in rural practice for five years after graduation.
- World Bank chooses Massey as its partner for international
education programme to train Asian public health specialists and vets to
counter global epidemics. Development of new Masters degree programmes
as a vehicle for this education.
- Massey University announces
a $75 million upgrade and expansion of IVABS to increase student
capacity and to extensively redevelop the veterinary ‘tower’, teaching
hospital, pathology facilities and teaching and research spaces.
- Infectious Research Disease Centre (IDREC) launched to help combat
infectious diseases that pose a threat to health, biosecurity and trade.
- Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visits the veterinary school.
- Massey University celebrates 50 years of veterinary education.
- Massey University’s EpiCentre and mEpiLab is made a collaborating
centre for veterinary epidemiology and public health by the World
Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
- Reaccredition of the BVSc programme by the AVMA, Australasian Veterinary Boards Council and the RCVS.
Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre (AWSBC) at Massey
University is made the OIE Collaborating Centre for Animal Welfare
Science and Bioethical Analysis (Asia, the Far East and Oceania) by the
- Massey University partners with the University of Peradeniya,
Sri Lanka, in one of the first veterinary schools’ twinning programmes
sponsored by the OIE.
- Massey University celebrates 50 years since its incorporation as a University.