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Students from Kamo High School have been working with Whangarei MP, Dr Shane Reti to test how hard some food packaging can be to open.

Using a device designed and provided by local Whangarei firms, Busck Concrete and Comer Engineering, students have measured the force required to tear open a range of food packaging.

“A good packet is one that can be torn open with the thumbs and little fingers of both hands,” Dr Reti says.

“We found the ideal level of force needed to open a tear-open packet was 30 newtons.

“Now that we’ve received these results we will be providing our findings to industry to see whether they can find workable solutions.

“These Kamo students have learnt about a practical aspect of science while gaining an understanding of how hard it can be for some people to open tear-open food packets.

“As Parliamentary facilitator for Arthritis New Zealand, this issue has often been raised with me and I’m aware it’s a challenge for people with arthritis to open food packaging.

“I would like to acknowledge Busck Concrete and Comer Engineering for supporting this project. I would also like to thank Age Concern, Tiaho Disabled Trust and Arthritis New Zealand for their input,” Dr Reti says.

More information: A Facebook page has been launched today with videos of students testing how hard packets are to open. The page can be found at

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