A young person's book that has been restricted to people aged 14 and over for two years has been cleared for unrestricted release after an unusual appeal by librarians.
Deputy chief censor Nic McCully ruled the R14 restriction on Into The River, byTed Dawe, was an arbitrary and unfair breach of the right to freedom of expression.
But Bob McCoskrie, director of the morality campaign group Family First director, who originally complained about the book to the Film and Literature Board of Review, has appealed to the board again, claiming it is laced with detailed descriptions of
sex acts, coarse language and scenes of drug-taking .
Dawe explained that he wrote the book for teenage boys who don't read books, who come from working-class and possibly Maori backgrounds and who don't have books that speak to them. It's told in quite a confronting language and I don't mince words in
terms of what kids do.
Dawe praised librarians at Auckland City Libraries who applied for the R14 restriction to be reconsidered. He said:
Librarians - they really are the warriors for books I had not given up hope, but I didn't really believe they would succeed.
Auckland Libraries collections manager Louise LaHatte said:
The decision of the Board of Review was based on the fact that it dealt with bullying and racism, and we considered that children should be able to read about topics like that because it will help them understand and make sense of their own experiences.
The chronology of the book censorship is as follows:
June: Into The River wins top prize in NZ Post Children's Book Awards.
July: Internal Affairs Department submits it to the censor after complaints from the public.
September: Censor classifies it M (unrestricted) with a descriptive note contains sex scenes, offensive language and drug use .
December: Review Board partially upholds Family First appeal and imposes R14 restriction.
March: Auckland Libraries ask the censor to reconsider the classification.
August 14: Censor reclassifies the book unrestricted with no descriptive note.
August 18: Family First appeals to Review Board again.