Ban lifted on NZ YA novel ‘Into the River’
The New Zealand Film and Literature Board has lifted a ban on the sale and supply of New Zealand author Ted Dawe’s YA novel Into the River.
The Board’s decision to classify the book as ‘unrestricted’ means the book can be supplied to anyone of any age. It supersedes the interim restriction order placed on the title in September, which made it a crime to supply, display or distribute the book, pending the Board’s full review.
In summarising its decision, the Board wrote that it does not believe Into the River promotes or supports the activities it depicts, which includes bullying, drug taking, and unsafe sex, but that the book instead ‘usefully and extensively describes and illustrates the short and longer term negative consequences that such behaviours can have’.
Board president Don Mathieson, who placed the interim restriction on the book, was the one dissenting vote from the five-member panel.
The Board received submissions from Dawe, the Library and Information Association of New Zealand, PEN New Zealand, Penguin Random House New Zealand and the Booksellers Association of New Zealand, as well as more than 50 submissions from individuals supporting the book. Conservative political party Family First New Zealand, which prompted the book’s restriction by requestion its classification as an R18 title, also made two submissions.
Into the River has been subject to numerous reclassifications since it was published in 2013. It was first classified as ‘Unrestricted M’ in September 2013 and reclassified as ‘R14’ in December 2013, preventing the book from being displayed on library shelves or ‘easily accessible’ in bookstores. In August this year, the deputy chief censor reclassified the book as unrestricted, prompting Family First to challenge its classification and to an interim ban being placed on the book’s sale, the first to be placed since the law was passed 22 years ago.