Ministry of Healthy advice on how to use a face mask safely

Best mask for breathabilityTrue Fleece
Best mask for comfortAhipao by Waiheke Cashmere, BONZ
Best mask for protectionUntouched World, BONZ, Cactus Outdoors
Best mask for fashionMountain Country, Tussock Ridge, Untouched World
Best mask for exercise (cold weather)Cactus Outdoors
Best mask for exercise (hot weather)True Fleece

Untouched World $19.95 to $79

True Fleece $25

BONZ $39

Ahipao by Waiheke Cashmere, $22.50

Cactus Outdoors $45

True Fleece $25

Mountain Country $25

Tussock Ridge $19.95

Helix Filter

These Helix Filters are kind of a big deal. They are made by Lanaco and are designed capture the tiniest dangerous airborne particles.

This same tech has been scientifically developed for industrial, medical and respiratory health sectors and has been chosen by NASA for critical life support in the next manned exploration to the moon.

Using one filter insert will capture more than 80% of particles 3 micron and larger. Protection levels increase to 95% with the use of two filters.
In addition, the HELIX Filter has extremely low breathing resistance, making it exceptionally easy to breathe through.

Untouched World

The first mask we looked at is one from Untouched World – the first fashion company in the world to be recognised by the United Nations for sustainability.

It has a few masks to choose from including a simple, double-layer surgical style Pleat Masks in merino and organic cotton for just $19.95, a nano knit mask for $69 and a technical HELIX iso Filter Mask for $79.

The Helix face mask, which is comfortable beyond belief. It is made from two layers of organic cotton. A flexible nose bridge can be moulded to ensure a good fit and toggles can be adjusted to ensure elastic ear loops fit well.

Both masks are exceptionally comfortable and breathable I wore one on the bus this morning and didn’t touch my face once. There is a significant difference between the two – unsurprisingly, I found the Helix mask to be more breathable and just felt better protected. The pleat masks are a bargain at $19.95 and as I said can be washed and endlessly reused.

True Fleece

This little beauty is made by True Fleece.

This double-layer surgical style cloth face mask is made from soft breathable, merino wool cloth. This mask offers light protection and acts as a great reminder not to touch your face. It’s machine washable for easy care, it is endlessly reusable.

I’m a big fan of merino wool cloth. It is a naturally lightweight, sustainable, recyclable and biodegradable. With its breathability it’s perfect for any season, keeping you cool in the warmer weather and toasty warm in the cooler weather.

Merino wool cloth is fantastically soft and itch-free. For someone with eczema like me, it works especially well.

True Fleece’s merino cloth face masks are made from 92% ultra-fine natural merino fibre, which means it is super soft against your skin.
There’s some elastic at the back which gives it a snug fit. I can’t feel any air escaping from either the top or bottom of the mask.

For $25, I’m impressed.


The next one is by BONZ, a Queenstown-based clothing company founded in the 1980s.

BONZ is your quintessential Kiwi clothing company providing high quality, its products are sustainably produced, New Zealand designed and made– which is primarily knitted.

It has 14 stores throughout Australia, a testament to the quality of the clothing it produces. Its seamless merino reusable knitted facemask has an odour resistant and breathable merino outer layer, with an organic cotton inner lining for comfort and durability. The mask also features a metal nose bridge to make a tight seal on your face.Combining its premium merino yarns natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and the PM 2.5 filter, our Merino Facemask is a good defence against any airborne germs.

The Merino Facemask will protect you from pollutants and keep you warm while exercising, commuting, shopping and travelling It is machine washable and will last 50 or more cycles. These are $39.
Ahipao by Waiheke Cashmere

This business prides itself on creating garments that are sustainably made and natural. Because all our fibres are created by nature rather than in a petrochemical laboratory, every product is naturally renewable, recyclable and biodegradable.

These super soft and sustainably made masks are 3D knitted (no hand-stitching or cutting) which allows us to eliminate any waste during production.

It’s a simple, seamless design which is very comfortable. It comes in various sizes and colours and is double-layered, allowing for a filter to be placed inside.The ear strap might not be quite as effective as a head strap over time, but it is an incredibly comfortable mask you could literally fall asleep in.

Allanah from AhiPao says being listed on the Buy NZ Masks page has led to a huge increase in sales. The business has gone from 0 sales to 50 or more which has been a lifeline for the company.

Cactus Outdoors

The next mask is made by Cactus Outdoors, a well-known New Zealand business that has been around for 28 years. It goes without saying that everything Cactus produces is very high quality and long-lasting.

This time Cactus has teamed up Lanaco to produce an impressive mask for $45.

The wool filter it has used is designed to be more than twice as easy to breathe through than standard masks. This is very important since most N95 masks are very difficult to breathe through.

It’s designed it to seal snugly around the face for superior protection and it includes an adjustable nose-wire to form a protective seal.

This one takes a bit more effort to get on due to the tie, but for the physical activity it is superior than elastic. It also looks fantastic!

Tussock Ridge

This Tussock Ridge merino mask is one of the best looking I’ve come across.

The merino is also incredibly comfortable. It comes in several different colours and is a real bargain at $19.95. It’s no surprise that Tussock Ridge sold out of these recently but now they are back in stock.

The double fabric layers will protect against unwanted particles and moisture. It is incredibly easy to breathe through. The merino is soft and doesn’t irritate the skin; is naturally anti-bacterial, stain-resistant and won’t hold odours. It is a breathable fabric that naturally expels moisture.

The only thing I’ll say is that it comes in both small and large. This one is large and there is a bit of room under the neck. I have a pretty slim face so would opt for the small version.

Mountain Country

Mountain Country’s high-end products are all designed, knitted and manufactured on-site in Auckland and are crafted from premium Possum, Merino wool and Mulberry silk yarns grown in New Zealand.

So this mask is designed and made in New Zealand, it’s washable, comfortable and reusable.

The inner and outer layers are made from Mountain Country’s trademarked Triple-Tech fabric manufactured inhouse using performance-proven sports fibre yarns.

This mask is soft against the skin, and very breathable, and is fitted with an adjustable nose piece. Its reusable face masks are designed to be used on their own or fitted with replaceable HELIX filters.

The mask is $25, so again for something of the quality I wouldn’t think twice about spending that amount. That’s one meal in Wellington or Auckland these days.

Business mentors will tell you the missteps are proof that you’re trying or making progress.

But for Blush Gin founders Elliot McClymont and Chris Thomas the idea that led to their business was pure coincidence.

“One evening Chris was making a rhubarb crumble, we infused the rhubarb into the gin and the idea never went away.”

Sensing the uniqueness of the rhubarb-gin, the pair seized the opportunity to launch a whole range of infused and flavoured gins.

“We didn’t realise pink gin would be the next big thing.”

The business grew organically from a kitchen bench hobby, to having over 250 retailers nationwide.

They self-funded the business early on and relied on sales to drive cashflow, refusing to draw any profits out of the business for almost two years.

“With any entrepreneur having ‘skin in the game’ makes it very real, you fight for growth when you’ve pumped your life savings into something,” McClymont says.

However, as with all small business, the journey hasn’t been without growing pains. Scaling up was the first major challenge.

Its first commercial run was 60 bottles but after strong sales it quickly needed to grow by 900%.

McClymont says Covid-19 “completely derailed” Blush Gin’s plans for UK export, where gin sales have taken off in recent years.
The company had spent a year building a foundation to allow it to cope with export demands in the lead up to Covid.

“We are still wanting to focus on export, but the market jitters have importers quite hesitant.

“We are working around this and looking at launching internationally direct to consumer through third-party logistics.”

Its target is to be 20% export-driven for this fiscal year but the pair say brand loyalty remains strong in New Zealand, and that’s what they are most proud of.

“We have a wonderful audience of end-users who champion our brand and believe in us.”

McClymont’s advice for entrepreneurs is to think of decisions as if you were reading your own biography.

“Would you want to read the next page if the last sentence said, “I didn’t take the risk?”

He says it’s important to be realistic about risks but also back yourself.

“You can do anything; you’ve just got to try. I’m a big believer in learn from your mistakes, it’s not wasted time, but time spent on self-development.”

He says New Zealand has a great brand overseas, and Kiwi’s should leverage it.

“It also helps to be a small nimble company; we can launch new products in weeks. Test on a small scale and learn from that. It’s very Kiwi to think outside the box and make things work.”

Now we’ve got freedom to head out and shop, now is the time to put your money where your mouth is and support local, business leaders say.

Neighbourly’s Local Likes campaign is asking people to highlight a business nearby that they love and let others in their neighbourhoods know.

The push across the 830,000-strong homegrown social network is just what local enterprise needed, says Dane Ambler of Business New Zealand.

“I think it’s a fantastic initiative. These local businesses closed their doors to make sure we were safe over the past couple of months and now for them it’s a matter of life and death.”

“They need us now, so it is time for us to act on all this talk of supporting local businesses and it’s great to see Neighbourly helping out.”

The business advocacy organisation was running its own campaign ShopKiwi which shares a similar ethos and aims to give a boost to all locally owned businesses.

A new campaign has been launched to help New Zealand businesses recover from the severe impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Government announced on Monday that the country’s level 4 lockdown would be extended until 11:59pm on Monday when it would be downgraded to level 3 for two weeks.

Currently, only essential businesses are allowed to operate but at the lower alert level, any business deemed “safe” will be allowed to reopen – provided all face-to-face contact is avoided. Delivering online shopping to customers will now also be allowed.

To help some of those businesses and retailers get back off the ground, a campaign called #shopkiwi has been started, allowing New Zealand companies to sell products directly to consumers online.