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About the Classification Office

This page explains the structure of the Classification Office, including information about its relation to government, staff makeup, and vacancies.

The Classification Office

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An independent Crown entity

The Classification Office is an independent Crown entity established under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

The Classification Office has two primary functions:

  • To classify publications such as films, books or computer files which may need to be restricted or banned
  • To provide information about classification decisions and about the classification system as a whole

Independence from central government

The Classification Office is an independent Crown entity under the Crown Entities Act 2004, and so it performs its functions at 'arms length' from central government.

As a Crown entity the Classification Office is accountable to the New Zealand public - it must perform its functions efficiently, transparently, and in a financially responsible manner.

The Minister of Internal Affairs is responsible for managing the Government's relationship with the Classification Office.

Structure and staff

Including the Chief Censor and Deputy Chief Censor, the Classification Office employs 24 staff who are organised into three Units.

oflc organisational chart 2017

An organisational chart of the Office of Film and Literature Classification

The Chief Censor and Deputy Chief Censor

The Chief Censor and Deputy Chief Censor are appointed on the recommendation of the Minister of Internal Affairs, with the agreement of the Minister of Women's Affairs and the Minister of Justice. The Chief Censor and Deputy Chief Censor form the Board of the Classification Office.

The Chief Censor

The Chief Censor is chief executive of the Classification Office and is responsible for allocating duties and responsibilities amongst staff. The Chief Censor performs a number of additional functions under the Classification Act, including the power to:

  • Grant members of the public leave to submit an unclassified publication for classification
  • Allow previously classified publications to be submitted in order to be given a new classification
  • 'Call in' an unclassified publication in order for it to be classified (this is usually the result of complaints from members of the public)
  • Grant an exemption (upon request) from a classification restriction - for example a school teacher showing a restricted film to students

The current Chief Censor is David Shanks. David is a senior public servant who has held roles as chief legal officer and a number of acting deputy chief executive positions. Most recently, David was Director - Health and Safety and Security at the NZ Ministry of Education.

David was appointed Chief Censor in April 2017.

The Deputy Chief Censor

The Deputy Chief Censor will exercise the powers, duties and functions of the Chief Censor in the event of absence or vacancy. The Deputy Chief Censor is currently responsible for the overall management of the Classification Unit.

The current Deputy Chief Censor is Jared Mullen. He was appointed in August 2015. Prior to this appointment, Jared was the Associate Deputy Chief Executive Social Policy at the Ministry of Social Development, and has previously held the positions of Deputy Chief Executive Policy at the Ministry of Justice, and Director of the Chief Executive's Office at Internal Affairs.

The Classification Unit

The Classification Unit consists of three teams of Classification Officers, each supervised by a Senior Classification Officer. Classification Officers examine films, games and other publications which are submitted for classification.

Classification Officers are also responsible for registering a new classification decision, updating our public database, and producing written decisions outlining why a publication has received a particular classification. Some of these documents are required by law and may be used as evidence in court cases.

The Information Unit

Advisors in the Information Unit deal with inquiries and complaints from members of the public, and other stakeholders such as the film industry, retailers, libraries and schools.

The Information Unit is also responsible for maintaining this website and the Classification Office's website for media studies students, producing information resources for cinemas and shops, carrying out research, running the Censor for a Day programme, and organising speakers and presentations upon request.

The Information Unit manages research projects undertaken by the Office, and runs the Office's library.

Research undertaken by the Classification Office

The Communications Manager is responsible for the Information Unit, and is also the Complaints Officer and Privacy Officer.

Corporate Services Unit

The Corporate Services Unit provides administrative support - including reception, IT and technical services.

The Corporate Services Manager is responsible for human resources and is the Chief Financial Officer.

Job vacancies

Vacancies come up rarely. When they do, we advertise on the homepage of our website and on jobs.govt.nz

When hiring Classification Officers or Information Unit Advisors, the Classification Office generally looks for people with work experience, good writing skills, and a university degree. The job does not require a particular qualification. The Classification Office looks for the ability to analyse material, and form opinions and arguments based on the provisions of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. These skills are often gained through study and work experience.

The Classification Office does not offer internships for classification unit or information unit positions.

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