There are several different ways that a classification decision can be changed. For instance, an appeal can be made to the Film and Literature Board of Review. An application to the Board has to be made soon after the Classification Office decision is registered, and there's a cost involved.
In other circumstances, someone might disagree with the classification a film or game has been given overseas which has been automatically adopted here through the process of cross-rating, such as an unrestricted classification from Australia or the UK. In these cases, you can ask the Chief Censor to have the film or game examined and classified by the Classification Office using the New Zealand classification criteria.
Finally, if more than three years have passed, anyone can ask the Chief Censor for the Classification Office to reconsider a classification. Find out more about the reconsideration process on our main website
The Film and Literature Board of Review examines the publication afresh and issues a new classification decision. This decision may be the same or different from the Classification Office's decision. Find out more about the Board of Review on DIA's website
Decisions of the Film and Literature Board of Review can be appealed to the High Court on a question of law. This means that you are saying that the Board has made an error in the way it has applied the classification law in its decision.
An interesting case in 2000 came about when a decision of the Classification Office was appealed to the Film and Literature Board of Review. The Board's decision was appealed to the High Court, on a question of law, and the matter was finally decided by the Court of Appeal.
In this case, two videos were imported from the United States by Living Word Distributors Limited. The videos were titled Gay Rights / Special Rights: Inside the Homosexual Agenda and AIDS: What You Haven't Been Told. The videos opposed awarding equal rights to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals, and blamed homosexuality for the spread of HIV and AIDS. Find out more about about the classification history of these publications, and the involvement of the Courts, on the history timeline
The Chief Censor can decide to 'call in' a film or game that has been classified unrestricted in the UK or Australia, and have the Classification Office classify it using New Zealand's classification criteria, which may be different to criteria used overseas.
The Chief Censor can also agree to reconsider a classification decision if more than three years has gone by, or if the film has been substantially altered since the decision, or if the Chief Censor is satisfied that there are special circumstances justifying reconsideration of a decision.
The following examples link you to the resources section of this site where you can read case studies of appealed and 'called in' decisions in more detail.
The film's distributor, 20th Century Fox, sought a review from the Board. 20th Century Fox made a submission to the Board saying that "…the film carries a strong message that those travelling in a wild natural place must be properly prepared, and must prudently advise others in advance about where they are going. It is in the public interest that the message should be widely and graphically disseminated." Find out more about the classification and appeal for 127 Hours
After reading the case study, what do you think the film's classification should be? What do you think of the 'RP' classification option the Board took in this case?
Paranormal Activity came into New Zealand with an unrestricted rating of 'M' from Australia, and the descriptive note 'contains offensive language'.
After complaints from members of the public, the Chief Censor called the film in to be classified by his Office. As a result, it is classified 'R16: contains horror scenes and offensive language'. Find out more about the classification Paranormal Activity
After reading the case study and thinking about how you would apply the classification criteria to this film, what classification and descriptive note would you give it?
The film The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando, was rejected by the Film Censor and Appeal Board five times between 1954 and 1959. It was finally passed with an R16 certificate in November 1977. Today, the DVD is 'PG: contains violence', although the original R16 would still apply to a cinema release of the feature film.