Media Release 7 Sep 2015
Family First NZ has successfully applied for an Interim Restriction Order on the book Into The River by Ted Dawe – a book laced with detailed descriptions of sex acts, coarse language and scenes of drug-taking. The book came to public attention after it took top prize in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. Award organisers hastily sent “explicit content” stickers to booksellers after the book’s win. The latest decision of the Censor will also now be reviewed by the Board of Review.
“In a strongly worded Order, the President of the Film and Literature Board of Review Dr Don Mathieson QC has accepted the concerns of Family First and the hundreds of families who wrote directly to the Censor’s office to protest the content, themes and availability of the book,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The Order says that the classification of Into the River under the Act is a matter of wide public concern, that it was debatable and a matter of independent public interest whether the Chief Censor acted lawfully, and that it was highly arguable whether the Classification Office had reached the correct conclusion.”
“But most significantly, the President agrees with our concern that the classification of Into the River will ‘operate as a semi-precedent, and will exert a significant influence upon other decisions portraying teenage sex and drug-taking’,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“The Censor has tried to argue that freedom of expression was not taken in to consideration by the Board and that this freedom trumps the protection of young people. It is preposterous and down-right insulting for the Censor to suggest that the Board failed to achieve the required balance between the rights of the public have to be protected from the injurious impact of material deemed objectionable to young persons and children and the competing right that such persons have access to this material.”
“The author and his supporters in the Library service are focused on the ‘rights’ of adults to write this sort of offensive material under the guise of ‘freedom of expression’. But the Bill of Rights states that ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘freedom to access information’ considerations do not automatically trump the laws that were written to allow censorship to be applied to protect the public good.”
“We are also aware that the Censor has received over 400 emails of complaint about their latest decision from concerned kiwi parents. Their desire to protect their children must also be respected.”
Family First is now preparing their submission for the Film and Literature Board of Review. The 400+ complaints made to the Censor will form part of their submission.