Do I need ethics approval?



Guidelines for investigations involving animals*

You will need approval from a recognised Ethics Committee if:
1. Your work is likely to have implications culturally or religiously, in terms of how the animal is perceived or valued?

2. You will be interfering with the normal behaviour, body structure, or workings of any live animal.
Examples of interfering with an animal are:

  • Exposing it to any drug, chemical, biological product, parasite, radiation, electricity, or abnormal environment.
  • Subjecting it to enforced activity, unusual restraint, abnormal nutrition, or surgery.
  • Depriving it of usual care.
  • Altering its diet or exercise regime.

*For the purpose of the committee, an “animal” means any living creature (vertebrates and invertebrates), and includes mammals, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, crustaceans and shellfish, insects, spiders etc.

Under the Wildlife Act 1953, it is illegal to keep any species of native animal without a permit from the Department of Conservation. It may also be illegal to collect or be in the possession of some protected or endangered species.

Note that one of the Fair’s prizes is for an exhibit that has used ‘Best Practice in Considering Animal Ethics’.


Guidelines for investigations involving human participants

You will need approval from a recognised Ethics Committee if:

1. The participants are expected to take any drugs or medicines (including coffee etc) or undergo medical tests or procedures of any sort and/or if any swabs, or samples be taken from any part of the body.
2. The participants take part in activities involving tasting and/or ingesting substances, exercise, or any measurements of heart/pulse rate, blood pressure, body structure, or any behaviour investigations.
3. The participants are required to provide private, personal or confidential information that may be sensitive to them or of a cultural or religious nature? Note: This includes involvement where participants do not reveal their names.


If you think you need approval from an Ethics Committee then:

For Animal Ethics information go to:

Applications can be sent by
Email to:
OR by post to:
Schools’ Animal Ethics Committee,
PO Box 10122, WELLINGTON 6143.

For Human Ethics information go to:


Note: Investigations will not be accepted for judging if they do not include ethics approval. Include ethics information in a separate, clearly labelled folder with your exhibit.

DISCLAIMER: The Canterbury-Westland Schools’ Science and Technology Fair Organising Committee:

  • Does not accept any responsibility for human or animal misfortune as a consequence of involvement in the Fair.
  • Does not necessarily support the reported conclusions when product testing preferences or other findings are identified. No responsibility for product testing implications will be accepted.