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Animal Ethics Committee

Student in front of Clocktower


All University of Otago staff and students are required to obtain permission from a University of Otago Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) to undertake manipulations on animals for research and teaching (the University of Otago does not permit or conduct animal testing).

The primary function of the AEC is to review Animal Use Protocols (AUPs) submitted by Principal Investigators, to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (1999) and the University's Code of Ethical Conduct. This ensures very high ethical standards for the use of animals at the University of Otago.

Among other things, researchers are required to minimise the ethical cost of animal use by applying the three Rs:

  1. Replace the use of animals with alternative techniques or avoid the use of animals.
  2. Reduce the number of animals to a minimum required to achieve the scientific requirements.
  3. Refine the way experiments are carried out to reduce animal suffering and enhance animal welfare.

All students intending to use animals must read the University of Otago Code of Ethical Conduct for the Use of Animals. The Principal Investigator for all AUPs submitted to the Animal Ethics Committee for student use, must be a University of Otago staff member.

University of Otago Code of Ethical Conduct for the Use of Animals

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Terms of Reference

The key functions of the AEC are as follows:

  • to ensure that the highest ethical standards are observed by all persons associated with it, in relation to the manipulation and use of animals.
  • to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act 1999, including the Animal Welfare Amendment Act No. 2 (2015), by all persons named on approved AEC protocols.
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Committee composition and membership

The University has an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) on each of its three campuses (Christchurch, Dunedin & Wellington). The members of the AEC include academics representing the scientific disciplines using animals, as well as lay members who are not involved in research, representing the wider community. This composition provides an understanding of what constitutes high quality research, excellent animal welfare, and the values of the public.

Each committee has: a senior academic representing the Code Holder (Vice-Chancellor); a number of research scientists representing the life sciences; three external members nominated by the NZ Vet Association, an approved animal welfare organisation (such as RNZSPCA) and the local Regional Council; up to 8 additional members appointed by the Code Holder.

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Relevant legislation and links to relevant national bodies

Research at the University of Otago complies with all legislation applicable to animal welfare. This includes, but is not restricted to:

  • The Animal Welfare Act 1991
  • The Agricultural Compounds & Veterinary Medicines Act 1997
  • The Hazardous Substances & New Organisms Act 1996

Animal use and welfare is strictly monitored by several national bodies including:


The University has an extensive training programme for researchers applying to use animals in research and teaching. This includes modules on applicable legislation, handling and restraint techniques, drug administration and surgical procedures.

Please visit the website of the Animal Welfare Office for further information.

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Applying for ethical approval

In accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 1999, including the Animal Welfare Amendment Act No. 2 (2015), Animal Use Protocols (AUPs) must be submitted for the following:

  1. The manipulation of live animals in RTT
  2. The killing of animals for their tissue
  3. The breeding or production of animals for RTT that may result in the birth or production of animals that are more susceptible to, or at greater risk of, pain or distress during its life.

The AEC is responsible for the review of monitoring of animal welfare during protocol procedures, and end of project reports.

The AEC reviews and comments on other business related to animal use for RTT at the University of Otago.

Furthermore, all modifications to existing AUPs, including changes to animal numbers, changes to manipulations, and the addition of personnel, require approval from the AEC.

If the changes involve a major departure from the approved AUP, a significant increase in numbers, or a change in impact grade, a new AUP should be submitted.

General enquiries should be directed to the relevant Secretary of the Animal Ethics Committee (see below).

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Applications for approval of Animal Use Protocols must be made via the Integrated Animal Research Management System (IARMS). Please click here for more information about IARMS, including 'How to create an AUP Guide', 'How to modify an AUP form' and a list of the University of Otago approved SOPs. (Access for registered IARMS users only). Modifications to existing AUPs (approved pre-January 2018) must also be via IARMS.  Training courses for using IARMS are available from ITS. Contextual help is embedded in the online form.

Please use the IARMS New User Application Form to request access to IARMS. (PDF)

Once completed, the form should be sent to

Expiring AUP forms:

Upon AUP expiry/closure, you will receive a notification to complete a Project Evaluation Form and Animal Statistics Form. Once completed, these will be attached to the relevant AUP in IARMS. Guidelines for completing the animal statistics form can be found on the MPI website.

2019 animal use statistics form (DOCX)

2019 project evaluation form (DOCX)

ITS Training for IARMS

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The approval process and notification of the review outcome

Following Committee review, the applicant will be advised of the outcome via IARMS, normally within 7-10 days of the meeting. Applicants can contact the AEC Secretary after the meeting for further information about the status of their application.

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Dunedin AEC application deadlines and meeting dates

Compliance Review. Please try to email compliance reviewers by this date, to give them adequate time to review all the applications, (see section 11 of the AUP, to see whether you need this). All RVMs need vet (compliance) approval.

Applications (either new or modifications) MUST BE SUBMITTED TO ‘AEC ADMIN REVIEW’ BY THIS DATE, having first completed compliance review, if required. Compliance review must be declared in section 15.1.

Deadline for signed applications. All signers must have signed by this date. AEC Meeting Dates
19 November 2019 25 November 2019 29 November 2019 11 December 2019
21 January 2020 27 January 2020 31 January 2020 12 February 2020
18 February 2020 24 February 2020 28 February 2020 11 March 2020
19 March 2020 25 March 2020 31 March 2020 8 April 2020
20 April 2020 24 April 2020 30 April 2020 13 May 2020
20 May 2020 25 May 2020 29 May 2020 10 June 2020
18 June 2020 24 June 2020 30 June 2020 8 July 2020
21 July 2020 27 July 2020 31 July 2020 12 August 2020
19 August 2020 25 August 2020 31 August 2020 9 September 2020
18 September 2020 24 September 2020 30 September 2020 14 October 2020
20 October 2020 27 October 2020 30 October 2020 11 November 2020
18 November 2020 24 November 2020 30 November 2020 9 December 2020

Following the Committee review, the applicant will be advised of the outcome via IARMS, normally within 3-5 days of the meeting.

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AEC key contact personnel


AEC Secretary - IARMS System
Tel +64 3 479 6537


AEC Christchurch Secretary
Tel +64 3 378 6260


Compliance Officer and AEC Secretary
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel +64 4 385 5410

Other Useful Contacts

To discuss animal welfare issues and experimental design relevant to your AEC application, please contact:
The Animal Welfare Office

Other information

The University has AEC equivalence; a protocol approved by any local Otago University AEC gives approval for animal use at all three Schools, subject to local arrangements with the Animal Facility Manager.

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