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New Zealand's censorship system is established by the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. The censorship system is designed to protect the New Zealand public from material that is likely to be harmful, or injurious to the public good. The Act defines what is considered harmful, and establishes criteria for rating, classifying and labelling films and other publications.


There are a number of words and phrases that have specific meaning in terms of the Act.

A publication is any printed recorded or stored image or text. This includes films, videos, books magazines, posters and computer discs.

A classification is a legal statement about who can legally view a publication. The Classification Office is responsible for classifying all publications that may be harmful and need to be restricted or banned.

Ratings provide consumer advice about the audience for which a film is suitable. Ratings are not legally enforceable.

View the list of definitions in the Act

Censorship law

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The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 establishes the Classification Office and gives the Office power to examine and classify publications.

Computer files

A look at the way in which the courts have treated computer files classified objectionable by the Office. Learn more about treatment of computer files by the Courts.

Occasional articles

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Articles by Chief Censor
Bill Hastings
and the Information Unit

more occasional articles

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