Family photo in 2023 – Sam on left age 25 and Joe on right age 23

A journey of love, leadership, and learning at Massey 

Michael Ahie, Taranaki, Ngā Ruahine, Ngāti Ruanui, holds distinction as both an alumnus and the Chancellor of Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University. His path has been characterised by notable professional successes, a profound bond with Massey, and the blossoming of a heartfelt and enduring romance in the supportive atmosphere of the university.

The seeds of a dream

Rooted in a family that deeply valued education, Michael’s journey at Massey began in 1984. Hailing from a small farming community in the coastal town of Ōpunake in Taranaki, he was the first in his family to attend university.

With a broad brush degree and a heart full of dreams, Michael navigated his university years at Massey, embracing a philosophy he would later share with countless students: the importance of pursuing one’s passions. This pursuit of passion culminated in his graduation with a Bachelor of Business Studies with First Class Honours in Marketing. During his time at Massey, he established his foundational principles – belief, confidence, commitment, and curiosity – guiding his life’s journey.

Visiting his old hostel room at City Court when he began his studies at Massey in 1984. Room A1 1

From student to Chancellor

After graduating, Michael embarked on a significant career that saw him take on key positions in notable corporations, including senior roles at Toyota New Zealand, the New Zealand Dairy Board, and Wrightson Ltd. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish AltusQ New Zealand, a firm dedicated to coaching and mentoring individuals in various organisations. His leadership extends to chairing the boards of directors at Spring Sheep Milk Co., the Plant Market Access Council and he is a director of Zespri International Limited. He has previously chaired the board of directors of Plant and Food Research, the Kiwifruit Breeding Centre, the Food Safety Assurance Advisory Council and ComplyWith NZ Ltd. Michael was a director of FMG for 12 years. 

In 2016, Michael reached a professional zenith when he was appointed Chancellor of Massey University, a role that enabled him to impact the lives of thousands of students profoundly. He regards his tenure as Chancellor as “an incredible honour and a great privilege,” with a particular fondness for the graduation ceremonies, which he views as deeply fulfilling and a source of immense pride.

“This role has allowed me to engage with numerous students, from the young to the more mature. Watching them walk across the stage is remarkable; they’ve put in so much effort. Each graduation signifies an individual’s unique journey and the challenges they’ve overcome, making it one of the most rewarding and fulfilling aspects of the role. I take great pride in hearing people say, ‘Michael, the graduation ceremony over which you presided was incredibly warm and inclusive.’”

A vision for Massey’s future

As his tenure as Chancellor draws close, Michael proudly remarks, “As Massey approaches its centennial year in 2027, I have great pride for what we represent – a unique New Zealand institution with a student-centric heart and a distinctive character shaped by our diverse, mature, and regionally dispersed student body.”

His aspirations for Massey’s future are clear: to preserve the university’s uniqueness, its commitment to equity and excellence, and its reputation for producing ‘dual world graduates’ – those capable of navigating multiple realms with the authentic, approachable, and sometimes provocative Kiwi spirit. “Our graduates embody the quintessential New Zealand character, full of aspiration and ready to challenge the status quo,” he states.

“What I wish to leave behind is not for my name to be remembered but for the essence of our university – as it started – to endure. For Massey to maintain its commitment to diversity, excel in being a Tiriti o Waitangi-led institution, and continue embracing our society’s cultural richness, allowing each graduate to represent their heritage proudly.”

His final message to Massey is one of remembrance and aspiration: “Remember who we are, our distinctiveness from more traditional universities, and our focus on being a student-centric institution. As a community, I hope we will continue to foster confident, creative, and compassionate leaders – qualities essential for the 21st-century leaders who will emerge from our halls.”

“May Massey’s future be as bright and bold as the legacy we’ve all contributed to.”

Michael and Janine

Love at first sight

For Michael, the campus was more than a setting for scholarly endeavours; it was the backdrop for a pivotal and enchanting chapter in his personal story. It was there, in the common room at City Court, that he encountered Janine, a moment of destiny that left an everlasting impression. “She had this beautiful way about her,” Michael warmly recalls, speaking of his immediate bond with Janine.

Their meeting sparked a connection that would grow into a lifelong union, eventually leading to their marriage in 1993. Together, they are the proud parents of two sons, Sam and Joe.

Throughout their time at university, Michael and Janine navigated the challenges and joys of a young relationship while pursuing their academic goals. 

Valentine’s Day – a tradition of love and laughter

Every year, Valentine’s Day was a special occasion for Michael and Janine, filled with love, laughter, and a unique tradition of receiving anonymous presents. “Janine was cheeky; she used to trick me... it was a two-decade-long mystery before I realised she was the one behind all the anonymous cards and flowers I received,” Michael recalls.

As they approach their 40th anniversary, the couple are planning a celebration with friends and family. Reflecting on their successful marriage, Michael shares a vital lesson: putting their relationship first. This principle, he believes, is the secret to a lasting and happy partnership.

Michael and Janine’s story at Massey is a narrative of love, leadership, and legacy. As Michael steps down as Chancellor, he leaves a profound impact on the university and an inspiring love story that the Massey community will remember for years to come.

Joe on left age 5 and Sam on right age 7