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History of censorship - 2005

Poetry classification

A classification decision is requested for a book of poems.

The following is taken from the summary of reasons for classifying Mihi: Collected Poems as unrestricted:

Mihi: Collected Poems is a 174 page book of Hone Tuwhare's poems. The collection is acknowledged as a classic of New Zealand literature, written by an internationally respected poet. The works convey the passion the author has for his world. They demonstrate his distinct and effortless humour which is clever both in its simplicity and in its capture of the bawdiness in the vernacular of the working man. The context of the poetry and the clarity of the poet's tone and passion mitigate the effects of the sexual references and imagery and the limited use of some offensive language.

The book's unrestricted availability is unlikely to injure the public good. The book is intended for a mature audience. A reader with the maturity to read the poems is likely to have the maturity to deal with their contents. Readers must also make a conscious decision to engage with the book and the usual browsing behaviours will influence their choice to continue to a more comprehensive level. Unlike a film, a book of poetry does not make a sudden and colourful impression on naive viewers. This book requires a level of engagement with the text that would make it of little interest to children.

The publication has been freely available in New Zealand for many years, and the Classification Office is not aware of any evidence of injury to the public good arising from that availability.

An unrestricted classification places no limits on the freedom of expression.

Read a case study about Mihi

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Mihi: Collected Poems book cover
Mihi: Collected Poems book cover