The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Combatting Internet Child Pornography: New Zealand's Successes

2002 saw major successes in New Zealand’s action against Internet child pornography, with the courts imposing the highest penalty to date in this country, concerted international and national action and Parliament looking at increasing penalties for offenders.

However, the General Manager of the Department of Internal Affairs’ Gaming and Censorship Regulation Group, Keith Manch, said that possibly the biggest success was an increase in New Zealanders’ understanding.

“People are beginning to understand that the law is about helping protect children from abuse,” Mr Manch said. “Children are deliberately abused to create child pornography. The pictures are traded internationally for the ‘pleasure’ of collectors.

“Trading child pornography is seldom about making money. It is about offenders constantly expanding their collections and searching for increasingly extreme images, with the most horrific examples involving babies or toddlers.

“That is why the comment often made by offenders, ‘but I was only looking at pictures’, is a myth. To create more pictures, more children are abused. Collecting or trading child pornography encourages the abuse of children.”

In December, the Government Administration Select Committee announced that its review of the Films Videos and Publications Classification Act will include looking at higher penalties. Currently, trading child pornography carries a penalty of up to one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000 per charge. Possession of child pornography carries a fine of up to $2,000 per charge.

Last year, 11 New Zealanders were convicted for trading, advertising and possession of child pornography, and at any one time another 20-25 cases were before the courts.

The highest penalty to date, two years imprisonment and fines and costs totalling $21,000, were imposed on Auckland man who ran the websites at the centre of an international network. His websites linked at least 700 users of child pornography.

This case highlighted New Zealand’s strong links with overseas enforcement agencies. United States Customs agents came here to gather information for their investigation, which is now resulting in arrests and prosecutions in the United States.

In other cases, the Department’s Inspectors shared information with Australian, British, Canadian, German, Norwegian and Swedish enforcement agencies and with Interpol.

“The Internet means that international borders are no longer barriers to communication,” Mr Manch said. “That makes distribution of child pornography easier, but it also assists enforcement agencies. Offenders leave an electronic trail that agencies can track, and we can share information easily.”

Co-operation within New Zealand is also an important part of combating child pornography.

Not only do the Department, Police and Customs work together, but also Internet Service Providers (ISP) and non-government organisations make important contributions through their work to increase Internet safety in general.

Parents, schools and businesses should contact their ISPs and find out what Internet safety services they offer, and should also look at the useful information and resources available from the Internet Safety Group and ECPAT. Their websites are and

“The combination of continuing enforcement action and constantly updated Internet safety information and services from a wide range of organisations is the most effective way of improving Internet safety and ensuring that anyone who chooses to trade Internet pornography in New Zealand will eventually be caught,” Mr Manch said.

Summary of Department of Internal Affairs’ enforcement action against child pornography in 2002:

New prosecution cases prepared20
Cases before the courtsAt any one time 20-25 cases were before the courts
Search warrants executed128. An investigation can often involve five or six search warrants. They are executed on the offender’s home addresses, of which there can be several as he moves, work addresses and all the ISPs that he had used.
Child pornography seized44 computers
21 separate hard drives
1,740 disks
The computers, hard drives and disks contained thousands of images of children aged from three years old to 14 being abused and in sexual poses.

For media interviews or to discuss possible angles, please contact:

Keith Manch
General Manager Gaming and Censorship Regulation Mobile: 027 445 6420

Vincent Cholewa
Communications Advisor Phone: 04 495 9350
Mobile: 025 272 4270