New Zealand Association of Science Educators

Do I require ethics approval?

Ethical approval is legally required only if live animals are to be used for teaching or research. Student investigations for science and technology fairs, CREST Awards, Bright Sparks or other such student initiated research or technological practice are included within the aegis of the Animal Welfare Act.

“Animal” means any live member of the animal kingdom that is a mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish (bony or cartilaginous), octopus, squid, crab, lobster or crayfish (including freshwater crayfish), and includes any marsupial pouch young or mammalian foetus, or any avian or reptilian pre-hatched young, that is in the last half of its period of gestation or development.

If you are unsure whether your activity will require ethics approval, work through the Ethics Approval Flow Chart. Be aware that a student initiated activity can receive only one year approval but a teaching programme activity such as the Year 13 Small Animal Study in Biology or Science courses may be granted approval for up to three years.

New Zealand Association of Science Educators NZASE Ethics Approval Flow Chart

Please click HERE for the flow chart PDF.

Activity that does not require Animal Ethics approval

Most classroom animal use in New Zealand involves family pets brought to school for simple observation and behaviour studies and for learning the responsibilities of humane care. Such use does not constitute a manipulation and thus does not require AEC approval. However, in all cases, the 5 Freedoms and 3 R’s are to be considered. Schools are referred to a 1999 publication from the Ministry of Education Caring for Animals - a guide for teachers, early childhood educators and students.

If you are in doubt, please email

For further guidance, refer to Monarch Butterflies (and other creatures that children bring to school), Using pets, Keeping Chickens, Animals in Agriculture and Equine courses, Slaters and Woodlice, Collecting and Observing Animals.

If activities are beyond the type described above, and constitute a manipulation as defined in the Act, then a school would need to comply with Part 6.

Examples of applications for ethical approval

Please note that these are only examples and are offered for guidance only. All names and personal details are fictitious.

NB: New examples will be provided as they become available.

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