Replacement, reduction, and refinement (the 3 Rs)

MPI and the Government encourage the principles of humane experimental techniques when animals are used in research, testing, or teaching. Find out about the 3 Rs, and the awards to promote them.

The 3 Rs are guiding principles

New Zealand promotes the use of the 3 Rs in animal research, testing, and teaching.


Replace animals with non-animal alternatives. Computer models can sometimes be used for teaching instead of live animals.


Use as few animals as necessary.


Refine the way experiments are carried out to reduce pain or suffering as much as possible. For example, painkillers or the most advanced scientific methods could be used.

3 Rs must be considered when evaluating proposals

Animal ethics committees must take the 3 Rs into account when considering proposals for research, testing, or teaching. This means that animals should only be used when there are no alternatives. Any harm to animals must be minimised, and weighed against the benefit to humans or other animals.

Scientific advances have changed the use of animals in research. Recent developments let researchers reduce the number of animals used, in certain situations. Developments have helped researchers refine their methods to minimise or eliminate pain and distress.

Find out more

Reporting animal use to support the 3 Rs – Arrive guidelines

Find out more about the 3Rs – Understanding Animal Research

Awards offered to promote the 3 Rs

The New Zealand Government and the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) promote the 3 Rs to those involved in research, testing, and teaching.

In July 2018, NAEAC launched 2 biennial awards for achievement in the development and implementation of the 3 Rs. Information about the awards is available in the terms of reference.

Aotearoa New Zealand 3Rs awards terms of reference [PDF, 115 KB]

Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield Three Rs Implementation Award

Applications for the 2020 John Schofield Three Rs Implementation Award now close on Friday 16 October 2020.

Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield Three Rs Implementation Award application form [DOC, 142 KB]

Aotearoa New Zealand Three 3Rs Award Research Grant

The Aotearoa New Zealand Three Rs Award Research Grant is not available in 2020.

Past winners

Three Rs Award past winners [PDF, 355 KB]

New Zealand 3 Rs

MPI and ANZCCART (Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching) are partners in a New Zealand-specific 3 Rs programme. This aims to:

  • promote understanding and application of the 3 Rs in New Zealand
  • profile New Zealand's 3 Rs contributions
  • network and liaise with other 3 Rs centres internationally.

Who to contact

If you have questions about animal research, testing, and teaching, email

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