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HRC Ethics and Regulatory Committees

HRC Ethics Committee

The Health Research Council Ethics Committee (HRCEC) provides advice on health research ethical issues and the ethical review process. The committee approves Health and Disability Ethics Committees and Institutional Ethics Committees.

Section 25 of the Health Research Council Act 1990 outlines the functions of the Ethics Committee, and the criteria for membership is set out in Section 26.

Committee members 

•    Associate Professor Josephine Johnston - Co-Chair, Ethicist and legal
•    Dr Lindsey Te Ata O Tū MacDonald – Co-Chair, Political theorist and research ethics
•    Associate Professor Donna Cormack, Māori health researcher
•    Professor Parry Guilford, Health researcher
•    Ms Helen Davidson, Legal
•    Dr Anna Ponnampalam, Biologist
•    Professor Elaine Rush, Health researcher

​Committee Secretary:  Hannah Neale

Meeting Dates:

The Ethics Committee holds four meetings annually, usually in February, May, August and November.

Role of the Ethics Committee

It is the responsibility of the HRCEC to ensure that independent ethical assessment of any proposed research submitted for an HRC grant has been carried out by an ethics committee approved by the HRCEC.

To ensure that appropriate standards are met, the HRCEC has developed a formal approval process in which they review and monitor an ethics committee.

The HRC approves two types of ethics committees:

  1. The Health and Disability Ethics Committees (HDECs) are independent ethics committees administered by the Ministry of Health. They only review health and disability research. The HRCEC currently approves four HDECs (Northern A, Northern B, Central and Southern). 
  2. Institutional Ethics Committees (IECs) and other human ethics committees: IECs are established and supported by the institution to which they belong, usually a university, and they review research that’s occurring within their institution, which can span a broad range of research applications involving human participants. The HRCEC currently approves 12 IECS:
  • Auckland Health Research Ethics Committee
  • Auckland University of Technology Ethics Committee
  • Lincoln University Human Ethics Committee
  • Massey University Human Ethics Committee: Northern
  • Massey University Human Ethics Committee: Southern A
  • Massey University Human Ethics Committee: Southern B
  • University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee
  • University of Otago Human Ethics Committee
  • University of Otago Human Ethics Committee (Health)
  • University of Waikato Human Research Ethics Committee (Health)
  • Victoria University of Wellington Human Ethics Committee
  • Wintec Human Ethics in Research Group

If you are an ethics committee seeking approval or would like further information on the approval process, please read the HRC guidelines for approval of ethics committees. 

Annual reporting and re-approval

The approval of ethics committees by the HRCEC is a formal process. Once approved, ethics committees need to provide an annual report from an ethics committee, which allows the HRCEC to monitor the activity and functioning of the committee as well as address any issues which arise out of the ethical review process.

In addition to the annual report, on re-approval year (a maximum of three calendar years from approval) the ethics committees are asked to complete a report from an ethics committee seeking re-approval, which summarises the activity of the committee over the past three years and primarily focuses on issues of process and procedure.

The HRCEC requires this information to satisfy itself that the on-going delegation of its functions regarding independent ethical assessment is appropriate.

Additional: HRC Ethics Committee Terms of Reference