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Source: Massey University

Food technology alumnus Peter Kuguru with his grandson Kendrick van Kesteren, Professors Emeriti Mary Earle and Dick Earle and Mr Kuguru’s wife Annie Wanjiru Kuguru.

Fifty years after enrolling in a Bachelor of Technology degree at Massey University, Kenyan businessman Peter Kuguru recently returned to Palmerston North with his family and caught up with his former teachers, Professors Emeriti Dick and Mary Earle.

Mr Kuguru studied food technology at Massey from 1969, graduating in 1972. He returned to Kenya and worked in the food industry, then on a Government contract to launch the Kenya Bureau of Standards before starting his own food manufacturing business in the late 1970s. The company made a variety of products including noodles, confectionery, baked goods, beer and soft drinks. He currently mills maize and also has a family real estate business.

He recalls spending his first two years at Fergusson Hall before going flatting.

“Dr Mary Earle took me through the product development course, which has been valuable in my business life all my life after college,” Mr Kuguru says. “She took good care of her students. Dr Richard Earle taught me unit operations. My family and I were blessed to be hosted by Dr Mary and Dr Richard Earle in their home last December.”

Professor Dick Earle said Mr Kuguru had kept in touch with the couple over the decades and he had visited him in Nairobi some years ago. “We didn’t have many African students back then.” Professor Mary Earle said Mr Kuguru “was a character”. He had sent them emails saying he planned to visit but she was a little taken aback when he arrived at their home with 10 family members of different generations.

While in New Zealand he also caught up with a former university classmate, Dr Tom Robertson, who worked as a senior lecturer in food technology at Massey until retiring in 2016.