Replacement, reduction, and refinement (the 3 Rs)

The 3Rs principles (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) provide a framework for performing more humane animal research and are recognised in New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation, the Animal Welfare Act 1999. 

The 3Rs refer to:

  • replacement of animals with a less sentient or non-sentient alternative wherever possible
  • reduction in the numbers of animals to the minimum necessary to achieve a result
  • refinement of procedures and animal environments to minimise pain or distress.

The Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield 3Rs Award

The principles of the 3Rs are a cornerstone of the ethical use of animals in research, testing and teaching (RTT). The Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield 3Rs Award celebrates achievement in the development and/or implementation of the 3Rs.

John Schofield was a veterinarian with huge national and international recognition whose work focused on the welfare of animals used in research and teaching. He contributed extensively to develop new ways to advance the 3Rs, implement them in his work, and support others to do so. This award was created to recognise similar achievements by others in this important area of research, testing, and teaching.

The biennial award is jointly offered by the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) and the New Zealand board of the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART(NZ)).

Applications for the 2024 award cycle open on Monday 1 July 2024 and close on Monday 30 September 2024. 

Please read the Terms of Reference and Application Form linked below before submitting your application. Applications or nominations should be sent as an electronic attachment (Word or PDF) to NAEAC via email at

Previous winners 

Innovative veterinary science teaching and research platform wins national award

Fourth R

NAEAC received and discussed an internal paper suggesting that adding the concept of 'Respect' as a fourth R could unify competing ethical perspectives to further improve animal welfare.

The concept of respect could be applied across different ethical views. For example, the term 'Respect' addresses the anti-vivisection perspective that all animals have an inherent value while remaining compatible with the science perspective that animals have instrumental value.

NAEAC has agreed to support the fourth R in principle and will continue discussions on the matter.

Who to contact

If you have any questions about NAEAC, email

Last reviewed: 23 Nov 2021