Te Ira Kāwai - The Auckland Regional Biobank

Who We Are and What We Do

Te Ira Kāwai – The Auckland Regional Biobank (ARB) consists of a partnership between the University of Auckland and all three Auckland Metropolitan District Health Boards to collectively serve a multi-cultural population of more than 1.6 million people. The ARB acknowledges and appreciates that Māori have unique cultural and spiritual beliefs related to human tissue, thus as the Kaitiaki/guardian of the donated tissue, we are committed to ensure appropriate protocols and safeguards (both scientific and cultural) are established, respected and adhered to.

Our governance structure includes independent scientists, researchers, cultural advisors and lay people. Our Academic Scientific Advisory Board leads development of future Biobanking practices including Tikanga and emerging ethical protocols. We offer a range of services to researchers in order to support their projects including making donated tissue available for ethically approved research, advise on ethical and cultural matters, as well as the provision of governance support.  We also collaborate with Biobanks in other centres to facilitate medical research across New Zealand. The ARB uses OpenSpecimen, a specialist Biobank Database, which enables us to track storage locations of individual samples efficiently to ensure stored tissue can be monitored at all times to minimises risk of sample loss


In 2010, Haematologist Dr. Samar Issa established a Biobank 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 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.