New Zealand's education minister called for an investigation after reports that a student's body lay undiscovered in a university dorm room for nearly eight weeks. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Baker

Wellington - The head of a multinational company that manages a student hall in Christchurch where a young man reportedly lay dead for almost two months before being discovered says he is haunted by the question "How did we miss him?"

Campus Living group managing director John Schroder told media on Thursday that the company owed it to the yet unnamed student and his family "to make sure we find out exactly what happened."

"If something needs to change in the way we operate our services we will do it," he said, according to the Stuff news website.

University of Canterbury Vice Chancellor Cheryl de la Rey said the university had apologised to the student's family and vowed that no question would be left unanswered.

On Wednesday, the university announced an independent investigation into how the situation could have happened and what actions needed to be taken. 

"Despite the comprehensive pastoral care programmes in place, for us it is inconceivable to imagine how these circumstances could have occurred," de la Rey said in a statement. 

"We understand that the matter is now with the coroner and we are respectful of the family's wishes at this time not to comment further."

The body of the man was discovered on Monday night after fellow students complained about an odour. He is yet to be formally identified by police. The cause of death is still unknown.