Statement on use of animals in research and teaching

This statement describes teaching and research involving the use of animals at the University, and how it is overseen by our Animal Ethics Committee.

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington is an internationally recognised research institution that conducts a small amount of teaching and research involving the use of animals. These research programs include field-based studies crucial to conservation efforts of New Zealand native species, as well as laboratory-based research into behaviour and addiction, drug action, and the molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease that can only be answered using animal models.

The primary aim of our research is furthering knowledge that could lead to the development of new treatments in both humans and animals. As a teaching institution, we also conduct a small number of low-impact teaching activities using animals (such as field or laboratory-based observations of natural behaviour and interactions).

While the use of animals in research is a fundamental cornerstone for biomedical discovery, it is highly regulated in New Zealand under Part 6 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, and only allowed when the potential benefits outweigh the expected harm and when no alternative methods are available.

Animal research at the University is overseen by its Animal Ethics Committee, which makes ethical decisions regarding proposed research and provides oversight for the projects, facilities, and procedures to maintain animal welfare. Included in the Committee’s membership are an animal welfare representative and a veterinarian.

As part of its activity, the Animal Ethics Committee is guided by the principles of reducing the need for animals in research, refining the way research is performed to reduce harm and maximise benefit from research programmes and, where possible, eliminating the need to use animals in research altogether. Concerns for animal welfare are paramount in the ethical approval process and our staff are passionate about the welfare of the animals used in our research.

The University was an inaugural signatory to the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching (ANZCAART) Openness Agreement on Animal Research and Teaching in New Zealand. Our staff recognise the importance of open dialogue with members of the public who justifiably deserve to be well informed about why, when, and how animals are used in research.