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Censorship Compliance

Service Overview

One of our roles is to make sure that New Zealand's censorship legislation is enforced, and so help protect people from material that is injurious to the public good.

New Zealand's censorship regime is governed by the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

This Act makes it an offence to possess or trade in "objectionable" publications. Penalties include fines up to $2,000 for each offence, or up to $20,000 or a maximum of one year's imprisonment for each offence if any attempt is made to trade commercially. Commercial firms may be fined more.

How to make a complaint or express your concern
If you are concerned that something you have seen may be objectionable under the terms of the Act please fill in our online Content Complaint Form (link below):

If you are concerned that something you have seen should be classified, then you should contact:
Who's who in Censorship

Department of Internal Affairs

We are responsible for enforcing the provisions of the
Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.
Our Censorship Compliance Unit:
  • ensures publications considered to be objectionable are not made available to members of the public
  • ensures that the decisions of the Office of Film and Literature Classification are adhered to by the film and video industry, magazine distributors, and shops
  • investigates complaints.
Inspectors of Publications can prosecute people for offences which relate to the labelling of publications and their display, and the manufacture, supply, distribution, advertising and exhibition of objectionable or restricted publications.

Under delegation from the Secretary for Internal Affairs, the Department's Inspectors of Publications may submit unclassified publications to the Office of Film and Literature Classification, when they have cause to believe it may be objectionable in terms of the Act, or needs to be restricted in some way.

If a publication has been submitted to the Classification Office the owner has the right to make submissions on the classification of the publication.

The following poster was produced by the Department of Internal Affairs in December 2003 to make it easier for movie theatres to deal with teenagers being refused entry to movies:

New Zealand Police
May be called on to enforce the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. All police are Inspectors of Publications.

New Zealand Customs Service
The first line of defence against objectionable publications entering New Zealand.

The Film and Video Labelling Body
Unlabelled films and videos first pass though the hands of the Labelling Body. Made up of industry and community representatives the Labelling Body is guided by the classifications given elsewhere in the world. Under the regulations, Australian classifications are used as a guide, with some lesser use made of British classifications. Those films and videos which the Labelling Body believes warrant a restricted classification (the most common restrictions are R16 and R18) are passed on to the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification
Classifies films, videos, and publications. This may include cutting films and videos. If you have a query about a classification or wish to make a submission to the Office of Film and Literature Classification you should write to:

Office of Film and Literature Classification
PO Box 1999

Film and Literature Board of Review
If the person who originally submitted the film, video or publication for classification disagrees with the classificaton, then he or she can appeal to the Film and Literature Board of Review. Similarly any member of the public who disagrees with a classification can ask the Secretary for Internal Affairs for leave to submit the publication to the Film and Literature Board of Review for re-examination. Link here to more information about the decisions of the
Film and Literature Board of Review.

Ministry of Justice
Provides strategic and policy advice across the justice sector.

Protecting Our Innocence: New Zealand's National Plan of Action Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, published by the Ministry of Justice (February 2002).
This is a comprehensive examination of the four main activities that exploit children for their commercial value: child prostitution; child pornography; child sex tourism; and child trafficking for sexual purposes. It also details some of the laws, social policies, administrative measures and programmes which have been developed to respond to child abuse and exploitation in general.

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Last updated: 18/12/2003