This page has information about how the Classification Act is enforced - including the role of Customs, the Police and the Department of Internal Affairs. It also has information about the offence provisions and associated penalties.
If you are an official (such as a Customs officer or member of the New Zealand Police) and would like more information on submitting publications for classification, see the Officials section.
The Classification Office does not have an enforcement role in the classification system.
The role of the Classification Office is to examine and classify publications and to provide information about the classification system. We provide information, resources and advice in order to help people comply with the law, but we do not have an enforcement role.
Customs, the Police and Inspectors at the Department of Internal Affairs are responsible for enforcement of the Classification Act.
Enforcement of New Zealand's classification law is the primary responsibility of Inspectors of Publications in the Censorship Compliance Unit at the Department of Internal Affairs. The Police are also Inspectors of Publications and both they and Customs Officers perform important roles in classification system enforcement.
|Whose responsibility||Films, DVDs, games and other publications||Computer files and material on the internet|
|The Censorship Compliance Unit, Department of Internal Affairs|| || |
|Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand - OCEANZ (a specialist Police team)|| |
|New Zealand Customs Service|| || |
Officials from the Censorship Compliance Unit, the Police and the Customs Service may submit potentially objectionable material for classification.
The Censorship Compliance Unit can submit films, games and other publications as a result of a complaint. They may also submit unclassified material if they think an age restriction may be necessary.
Committing an offence under the Classification Act can lead to fines or imprisonment. Prosecutions are carried out by Police, Customs and the Censorship Compliance Unit.
Cases involving objectionable material may lead to a jury trial. If a defendant does not agree with the prosecution that material is objectionable, it will be submitted to the Classification Office for examination and classification - a judge or jury does not have the power to decide whether or not a publication is objectionable.
The Classification Act and its Regulations outline classification and labelling requirements, the availability of restricted material, and the prohibition of objectionable content. The offence provisions outline the penalties if the law is broken.
Offences relating to making, possessing and distributing objectionable content are serious criminal offences - distributing objectionable material, for example, can result in a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.
The following PDF is a plain English guide to the offence provisions in the Classification Act (and its regulations) to which penalties may apply. It also includes some provisions which clarify when and how these offences and penalties apply.
This guide will be helpful if you are looking for information about specific offences and penalties but it is not a complete list. The offence provisions in full can be read on the New Zealand Government's legislation website:
Freephone: 0800 257 887
For further information go to the Censorship Compliance section of the Department of Internal Affairs website.
If you have a censorship-related complaint you should contact the Censorship Compliance Unit at the Department of Internal Affairs.