New Zealand classifications are not enforced by the Classification Office. Enforcement, or making sure that people abide by the classification law, is the job of three agencies: the NZ Police, NZ Customs, and the Censorship Compliance Unit of the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). Members of the public also play a part in enforcing the law by complaining to the Censorship Compliance Unit if they think the law is being broken. This page introduces you to the three censorship enforcement agencies.
But first, what are the classification offences, and the penalties for breaking the law?
It might surprise you to know that anyone - including a parent, guardian or teacher - who gives or shows a restricted publication to an underage person can be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned for up to three months for doing so.
If a retailer supplies a restricted publication to someone underage, they can be fined up to $25,000.
Penalties involving Objectionable (banned) publications are much higher. The penalty for knowingly possessing an Objectionable publication is a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, and the penalty for knowingly making or distributing an Objectionable publication is a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.
The three agencies that enforce the classification law do so in different ways.
The Inspectors of Publications at the Department of Internal Affairs' Censorship Compliance Unit investigate complaints from members of the public, monitor compliance with labelling and display requirements, and help to ensure that the decisions of the Classification Office are adhered to. They also work with overseas agencies - sharing intelligence in order to stop people using the internet to share objectionable material. Find out more about the Unit's work
Censorship enforcement by the NZ Police is often linked to other criminal investigations, for example, sexual abuse allegations or drug investigations. The Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (OCEANZ) team is a specialist Police unit. It works as part of an international taskforce, the Virtual Global Taskforce, to protect children from online child abuse. Find out more about the multi-agency approach to child protection
NZ Customs is responsible for border control - what comes into the country by boat, plane, mail or other means. This includes stopping objectionable publications coming into the country. Objectionable publications are 'prohibited imports' under the Customs and Excise Act. Find out more about Customs' job
- any film, book, sound recording, picture, newspaper, photograph, photographic negative, photographic plate, or photographic slide:
- any print or writing:
- a paper or other thing that has printed or impressed upon it, or otherwise shown upon it, 1 or more (or a combination of 1 or more) images, representations, signs, statements, or words:
- a thing (including, but not limited to, a disc, or an electronic or computer file) on which is recorded or stored information that, by the use of a computer or other electronic device, is capable of being reproduced or shown as 1 or more (or a combination of 1 or more) images, representations, signs, statements, or words