The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

Objectionable and restricted material

What is 'objectionable' and 'restricted' material?

Objectionable

Objectionable is defined under the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 as:

"a publication...(that) describes, depicts or expresses, or otherwise deals with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence in such a manner that the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good."

All objectionable material is banned.

In deciding whether a publication is objectionable, or should instead be given an unrestricted or restricted classification, consideration is given to the extent, degree and manner in which the publication describes, depicts, or deals with:

  • acts of torture, the infliction of serious physical harm or acts of significant cruelty
  • sexual violence or sexual coercion, or violence or coercion in association with sexual conduct
  • sexual or physical conduct of a degrading or dehumanising or demeaning nature
  • sexual conduct with or by children, or young persons, or both
  • physical conduct in which sexual satisfaction is derived from inflicting or suffering cruelty or pain
  • exploits the nudity of children, young persons, or both
  • degrades or dehumanises or demeans any person
  • promotes or encourages criminal acts or acts of terrorism
  • represents that members of any particular class of the public are inherently inferior to other members of the public by reason of any characteristic of members of that class being a characteristic that is a prohibited ground of discrimination specified in the Human Rights Act 1993.

Restricted

Restricted material is material which is only made available to people who are over a certain age.

Typically, this is R18 or Adult material similar to that which can be legally purchased from video or magazine outlets. This material is available on the Internet providing the person accessing it can prove they meet the age required.

Anybody who knowingly supplies, distributes, exhibits or displays a restricted publication to any person who does not meet the age criteria is committing an offence. A restricted publication is objectionable if made available to a person underage, and an individual can receive up to three months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Examples of offences that could occur - This would include (but is not restricted to):

  • a video outlet renting a restricted DVD to an underage youth; or
  • a parent supplying an R18 computer game to underage children; or
  • an adult sending sexually explicit text or images to a person under 18.

See also: Film and video classification.

What are the penalties for possession or trading in objectionable material?

Anybody found “knowingly” in possession of objectionable material can receive a maximum of five years imprisonment.

Every time a person downloads objectionable material onto their screen, there is the potential for a possession offence having been committed.

Anybody who knowingly makes or knowingly trades, distributes, or displays an objectionable publication via the Internet can receive a maximum of ten years imprisonment.

A body corporate can be fined up to $200,000.

What can I do if I find something objectionable by accident?

The Department investigates and sometimes prosecutes people who deliberately collect objectionable material and find ways to distribute it to other people via the Internet.

Occasionally, the nature of the Internet can lead to somebody viewing objectionable material by accident. If this happens to you, leave the site immediately.

If you have recorded the name of the site you can fill in our online Content Complaint Form or notify the Department's Censorship Compliance Unit.

Content Complaint Form