The following is from Lanaco and tells of their journey in developing masks for Covid protection and how their partnership with Rotary evolved.
Pictures (L-R): Olympians using Lanaco masks, Epidemiologist Michael Baker wearing a Lanaco mask (Sunday Star Times 17 October 2021), Fiji family with donated masks
Lanaco is a New Zealand company which has developed and manufactures world leading filter technology, based on wool.  Lanaco air filters are now seen everywhere protecting people from Covid, but were developed over recent years to combat poor air quality in most cities and industrial regions around the world.  The technology is so successful it has even been selected by NASA to protect astronauts on their next mission to the moon and beyond.
A few years ago Lanaco partnered with New Zealand company MEO, to produce fashionable face masks for urban users.  MEO masks have been the mask of choice of the PM in recent times, and many public figures, organisations and individuals have been seeking out the Lanaco filtered masks.
When Covid struck NZ shores in early 2020, Lanaco was sending its filter media to China to be made into disposable masks for individuals and industry.  China’s borders closed to exports and Lanaco had 100’s of thousands of masks trapped offshore.  But it was still making filters.  The company set about initiating the making of cloth masks in New Zealand – by individuals with sewing machines, clothing companies in lockdown and so many other – and Lanaco supplied them all with free designs, and filters to fit them.  The programme was a huge success, and established Helix Filter as a household name in NZ masking.
The aim of making complete masks was another story. Lanaco was approached by the Minstry of Health and the Beehive for help with masking a country which was soon going to be in short supply.  Investing over a million dollars of its own capital Lanaco set about building NZ’s first certified medical grade respirator manufacturing plant to supply the country with jobs, supply chain independence, excellence in filtration, support for primary industry, and a feather in the cap for Kiwi innovation.
The rest as they say is history. After developing (in close cooperation with District Health Boards) new respirator masks to suit the needs of the NZ population, especially Maori and Pacifica, the Ministry of Health terminated its contract with Lanaco, and without disclosure to Lanaco had purchased millions of masks from Asian plants.  Lanaco was left high and dry.
It was then we told our story to some key Rotarians in Auckland.  We had the best technology in world. We had capacity and hung on to some core skills. And we had just landed all the filter stock which the Asian suppliers had turned into masks months before.  We had too much stock and were quickly dying.  The Rotarians saw our plight and the plight of many needy in the Pacific at the time.  Together, Lanaco and Rotary donated an initial $300,000 worth of high protection N95 level masks to needy in delta ravaged Fiji.  The collaboration then realised more could be done with Delta now firmly in NZ. Rotary Clubs organised donation of another $120,000 of masks from Lanaco to the Salvation Army, The Auckland City Mission, and Citizens Advice Bureau, as the economic and health ravages of Delta took their grip on an ill-prepared Aotearoa.
And it does not end there. Rotary by way of thanks to Lanaco for their incredible generosity, has embarked on the “1 Million Masks initiative”, where Lanaco produces high quality high performance masks and Rotary sells donation packs which are passed to needy groups through the greater regional Rotary network.
Pictures (L-R): Lanaco Founder Nick Davenoport with St Johns Rotary Gary Key with donation to Glen Innes CAB, Nick with President Downtown Auckland Rotary at Auckland City Mission donation, 1 Million Masks packaging (boxes of 10).