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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 definitions from the Act

Film labels

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Learn about how the labelling system works and, how to identify the different kinds of film labels. Learn more

Censorship system

The Office of Film and Literature Classification works with a number of other agencies to maintain the censorship system and enforce censorship law. Learn more


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The Office does not enforce the classification system. This is carried out by three enforcement agencies. Learn more

History of censorship

The first censorship legislation was passed in 1916. Since then there have been many changes. Learn more

Updated 18.06.2008

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