Apparel firm switches to mask-making

Bonz Group New Zealand director Oscar Rodwell has repurposed two new industrial knitting machines in Invercargill to make about 700 merino masks, with shields to fit inside, which he is giving away to Queenstown residents. He hopes to continue manufacturi
Bonz Group New Zealand director Oscar Rodwell has repurposed two new industrial knitting machines in Invercargill to make about 700 merino masks, with shields to fit inside, which he is giving away to Queenstown residents. He hopes to continue manufacturing them for as long as he can. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
A Queenstown-based business is making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear — or, more specifically, face masks from merino wool — during the Covid-19 crisis.

And it’s giving them away to Queenstown residents in need.

Bonz Group New Zealand director Oscar Rodwell decided to repurpose the company’s brand new knitting machines in its Invercargill factory and its knitwear staff to create face masks made from premium Lake Ohau Station merino wool.

Each unit came with a pack of three simple filters, to slide into the mask, made from a fabric used in hazardous infection units.

‘‘We are no medical engineers, but they should, at the very least, stop people from touching their mouths.’’

The first 200 arrived in stock on Saturday and about another 500 arrived yesterday.

They had been ordered before Mr Rodwell knew the store would have to close for the next month.

However, he was still determined to deliver them to Queenstown residents who needed or wanted them.

‘‘I see no need in selling them, really.

‘‘We can make at least 1000 — we’ll probably keep the machines running; I’d like to do as many as I can.’’

Mr Rodwell closed the doors to the business in The Mall yesterday, but said the company had resisted the urge to make staff redundant in light of the lockdown announcement.

‘‘The knee-jerk reaction is to fire staff — it [the lock down] is not a long-term solution ... for us, it’s about keeping our employees happy and productive and rallying them.

‘‘We’ve got a good team ... a happy team, we’ll all get through it.’’

Anyone wanting a Bonz face mask could email oscar@bonzgroup.co.nz — ‘‘I’ll find a way to deliver them’’.

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

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