Te Ira Kāwai - The Auckland Regional Biobank

Who We Are and What We Do

Te Ira Kāwai-The Auckland Regional Biobank (ARB) is a partnership between the University of Auckland and the three Auckland metropolitan District Health Boards which collectively serve a multi-cultural population of more than 1.6 million people.

Te Ira Kāwai – ARB acknowledges that Māori have unique cultural and spiritual beliefs related to human tissue.

Te Ira Kāwai – ARB are kaitiaki/guardian of donated human tissue. We are committed to ensuring that appropriate protocols and safeguards ‒ both scientific and cultural ‒ are established, respected and adhered to

Our governance structure includes independent scientists and researchers, cultural advisors and lay people

Our academic scientific advisory committee leads development of future biobanking practices including tikanga and emerging ethical protocols.

We offer a range of services to researchers to support  their projects.We make tissues available to for ethically approved research, advise on ethical and cultural issues, and provide governance support.  

We collaborate with biobanks in other centres to facilitate medical research across New Zealand.

ARB uses OpenSpecimen, a specialist biobank database, which enables us to track storage locations and individual samples efficiently to ensure banked tissues can be monitored at all times and minimises risk of sample loss.


In 2010, Haematologist Dr Samar Issa established a tissue bank at Middlemore Hospital with support from the Freemasons Foundation and Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ.

This blood cancer collection was gifted to and became the foundation of Te Ira Kawai – ARB in 2014, however, the Middlemore Hospital Tissue Bank retains its highly valued Māori name ‒ Matatika Koiora ‒ gifted by Tainui. Matatika refers to ethics, the study of principles governing right and wrong conduct. Koiora is an expression referring to wellbeing and life.

On 3 February 2016, Kaumātua Jacobs performed a karakia and blessing before the opening of the new Te Ira Kāwai – Auckland Regional Tissue Bank in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (Grafton Campus)

Where is the Auckland Regional Biobank?

The core technical staff, management and the cryostorage facility are based at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences opposite Auckland Hospital in Grafton, Auckland, however, there are collection sites and some sample storage at each of Waitemata, Counties Manukau and Auckland DHBs. Contact us here.