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What does RP mean?

Posted on 2 May 2017 by Henry (updated post)

RP labels aren't used very often, so why do we use them and what do they mean?

Occasionally the Classification Office will assign an RP13 or RP16 classification to a film, and we recently issued our first RP18 classification to the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. RP classifications are different from R13, R16 or R18, where it is an offence to supply the film or series/show to any person who is under the specified age.

An RP classification means that someone under the specified age must be accompanied or supervised by a parent or guardian when seeing the film. A guardian is considered to be a responsible adult (18 years and over), for example a family member or teacher who can provide guidance. If a person under the age specified in the classification is not accompanied by a parent or guardian they cannot view an RP film.

Guidance for parents and guardians

Films or series with an RP label will contain storylines and subject matter that is targeted at a mature audience.

If you are accompanying a younger person to a film with an RP classification, your role is to help them understand the context, themes and material presented in the film – giving them an opportunity to think about and discuss any issues the film has raised for them. Your guidance and support will mitigate the potential harm of the child or teenager seeing the film, which may contain challenging content.

As with all film classifications, it is a good idea to read the descriptive note which accompanies the classification. This will give you an idea of the content in a film that might be challenging, disturbing or offensive. Content in an RP film may include things like violence, sexual references, offensive language, drug use and suicide. Written classification decisions on RP films are available upon request from the Classification Office. Please contact the Information Unit if you would like to obtain a copy of a classification decision.

What about online content?

The RP18 classification for 13 Reasons Why was the first for an online series, and there are various online streaming services that offer RP films. For online content we would advise that a parent would ideally watch a film or series with younger viewers in their household, but as an alternative could view the series on their own devices – for online series they could talk about the episodes as they go. The essential thing is for a parent or guardian to watch the show or film at the same time (or ahead of) the young people in their care – and (most importantly) to talk through the issues covered. Read our media release and blog post about 13 Reasons Why.

The RP labels

RP13 classification label


It is illegal to show or sell this to someone under 13 years of age unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The RP16 label


It is illegal to show or sell this to someone under 16 years of age unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The RP18 label


It is illegal to show or sell this to someone under 18 years of age unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Film poster advertising for the film Son of Saul
The film Son of Saul is classified RP16 with the descriptive note "Violence, cruelty and content may disturb"

Useful links

Recent films classified RP13, RP16 or RP18

  • 13 Reasons Why - RP18: Series deals with suicide, bullying and depression. Episodes may contain violence, sexual material, drug use, and frequent offensive language. Some episodes contain graphic depictions of suicide and rape
  • Rangoon - RP13: violence, drug use and content that may disturb
  • The Front Line - RP16: violence and offensive language
  • Hero - RP13: violence
  • The Mermaid - RP13: violence, sexual references and content that may disturb
  • Son Of Saul - RP16: violence, cruelty and content may disturb
  • Orphans And Kingdoms - RP16: violence, offensive language, nudity, drug use and suicide

For more information about the classification system, contact our Information Unit.

Henry works in the Information Unit at the NZ Office of Film and Literature Classification. His views do not represent those of the Chief Censor or of the Classification Office. The Information Unit provides information to other staff, to the public, and to industry members - they are not involved in assigning classifications. Keep up with our blog posts by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Film poster advertising for the series 13 Reasons Why
The online series 13 Reasons Why has been issued the first ever RP18 classification


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