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Statistics and corporate documents from the Classification Office

This page outlines some key classification statistics from the past financial year. You can also download copies of official documents such as our Annual Reports and Statements of Intent.

The Classification Office is accountable to the New Zealand public as a provider of an important public service. The following corporate documents contain detailed information about our operation, performance, and outlook for the years ahead.

A high level of transparency and engagement with the New Zealand public is essential to our work. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the information and documents we have provided.

Annual Report 2020 cover

Useful links

Submission on the Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill

The Classification Office made a written submission on the Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill

Submission on HDC (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill (PDF, 442KB)

Submission on FVPC (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill

The Classification Office made a written submission on the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill

Submission on FVPC Urgent Interim & Online Harm Amendment Bill (PDF, 928KB)

Annual Reports (2011-2020)

Annual Reports for a financial year (July 1 - June 30) are available in November each year, once they have been tabled in Parliament.

Statements of Intent

Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Internal Affairs (2020)

When a new Minister of Internal Affairs is appointed, the Classification Office provides a briefing which outlines who we are and what we do, how we have been operating, and other important information of use to the Minister. In 2020, we created six documents to cover the different aspects of the work our Office does:

Submission to the 2004 Inquiry into Hate Speech

As part of an Inquiry into Hate Speech in 2004, the Classification Office submitted that 'current New Zealand legislation does not specifically or effectively address "hate speech"', and that 'the extent to which a publication is hate speech should be a matter that is relevant to [a film, game, or other publication's] classification if Parliament decides that legislation providing for civil or criminal remedies is necessary or desirable.'

Submission to the 2004 Inquiry into Hate Speech (PDF, 274KB)

Responses to Official Information Act requests

This section is where the Classification Office proactively releases our responses to Official Information Act requests.

Lockdown Expenditure Official Information Request (July 2020)

This is a request for official information under the Official Information Act 1982 relating to sensitive expenditure incurred in the lead-up to and during the Level 4 Lockdown.

We request the following information:
1. All staff credit and purchase card statements for your agency from the 1st of March 2020 until the 30th of May 2020.
2. A list of items of expenditure pertaining to entertainment, staff expenses, travel, furniture, telecommunications and computer peripherals purchased or paid for between the 1st of March 2020 and 30th of May 2020.
3. A list of all staff reimbursements made within the same period.

We do not wish to cause unnecessary expense or burden on your agency. If clarification of any of our requests is needed, please call or email. Likewise, if a request proves unnecessarily burdensome in form and we are likely to be able to adjust it to be more specific or better suited to your information systems without losing the benefit of what is sought, please also get in touch. If there is likely to be a delay in being able to assemble or provide some of the information requested, please provide the rest of the information as it becomes available.

The relevant documents are as follows:

  1. Response (XLSX, 25.22 KB)
  2. Visa Statements February_Redacted (PDF, 1.82 MB)
  3. Visa Statements March_Redacted (PDF. 1.47 MB)
  4. Visa Statement April_Redacted (PDF 5.83 MB)
  5. Visa Statement May_Redacted (PDF, 1.30 MB)

 

Banned Books List Official Information Request (December 2020)

This was an Official Information Act request asking Could you please attach a complete list of banned books in New Zealand. Please note that I don't want any film or other media, just books and/or manuscripts and/or pamphlets.

We responded by email, which had the following spreadsheets attached:

Please note that this response was made in December 2020. As such, these spreadsheets reflect the list at the time of response and may not be an accurate reflection of the current banned books list. Please contact the Information Unit if you would like a copy of the list.

Our response to this request is reproduced below:

I have attached two spreadsheets which together include all banned books in New Zealand. Note that the Classification Office started operating in 1994, and replaced the previous Indecent Publications Tribunal as the authority responsible for classifying text-based publications such as books. In most cases, decisions by the Indecent Publications Tribunal are still in force today.

  • The IPT banned books 1964-1994 spreadsheet includes all books banned by the former Indecent Publications Tribunal. These are still in force unless otherwise indicated in the spreadsheet.
  • The OFLC banned books to 19 November 2020 spreadsheet includes all books banned by the Classification Office since opening in 1994.

No pamphlets have been banned by the Classification Office. The IPT banned two pamphlets:

IPT83-1070 (6 of 7) - Centurians Sales Pamphlet - 23/06/1983
IPT83-1070 (7 of 7) - Centurians Video Tape Sales Pamphlet - 23/06/1983

There are no publications listed as ‘manuscripts’. We are not aware of any manuscripts being classified or banned, but there is a chance that manuscripts would have been categorised as ‘books’ in which case they would be captured by the lists provided.

I hope this information is useful. If you are concerned that your request under the Official Information Act has not been dealt with appropriately you have the right to complain to the Office of the Ombudsman:

Freephone 0800 802 602
Email: info@ombudsman.parliament.nz

Pornography Working Party - Joint Briefing to Ministers

Formed in May 2018, the inter-agency Pornography Working Party (PWP) has been investigating the impacts of online pornography, coordinating work and advice between agencies and providing a centre of knowledge for government on the subject and advice on potential policy responses.

The PWP is chaired by Chief Censor David Shanks of the Classification Office, and includes representatives from the Classification Office, Netsafe, Ministry of Health, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), Ministry for Women, Ministry of Social Development (MSD), Ministry of Education, ACC, and New Zealand Police.

The following Briefings provided updates to Ministers about:

  • The current environment and its challenges
  • The relevance of this work to wider government priorities
  • Progress to date on key issues and responses
  • High-level recommendations
  • Individual agency responses

The relevant documents are as follows:

Banned Publications: Reconsiderations and Content/Themes

In March 2021 an Official Information Act request was made asking for data on the number of publications that have been the subject of applications for review or reconsiderations following a classification as objectionable, and the number of these where the review/reconsideration has been successful, as well as data on the number of publications with LGBT themes/content and/or consensual sexual themes/content that are (or have been) classified as objectionable.

We responded by email, which is collated in this document:

OIA Request on BoR and Banned Publications (DOCX, 19 KB)

The supplied spreadsheets are here:

Board of Review decisions with OFLC classifications (XLSX, 23 KB)

Tags on Objectionable Publications (XLSX, 11 KB)

Costs of OIA Requests

In March 2021 there was an Official Information Act request asking about the costs associated with OIA requests. 

We responded by email, with our answers bolded below:


Dear Sir or Madam

Official information request: charging for Official Information Act requests

Please supply the following information under the Official Information Act (OIA):

1.         Does your organisation have a policy or guidelines in relation to charging requestors for supplying information under the Official Information Act 1982?

We don’t have formal guidelines but as discussed we take a pragmatic approach and don’t tend to charge for information. In a small number of cases, when we explain the complexity and reason why we are thinking about charging, the requester has narrowed their scope to a point where we have been able to do the work without charging.

Here’s an example from 2019 of how we navigate this type of request:

Kia ora requester,

We have collated a large amount of material regarding your request. This will take us considerable time to read through and assess, and then make, redactions. I would like to make a suggestion that would make this easier for us and hopefully be more targeted in providing you the information you want to access. Attached is a list of the documents we've collected that are captured by your request. If you would like to have a look at the names of the documents perhaps you could identify which you would like sent to you?

If you would like all the documents I will ask a temping agency for a quote of the cost of this work that I will need to charge you for and get back to you with that. I will also extend the time required to respond. We are a small team here with large workloads so I am keen to help you but it needs to be within the limits we have.

Warm regards

2.         If yes, please supply a written copy of the policy/guideline, including grounds for seeking costs for supplying information, charges for photocopying, scanning or other copying of information and the hourly rate for staff time in compiling requests?

As an office of 25 people the issue is staff time. We have paid contractors, at no cost to the requester, previously to assist us with this work.  Most recently we have paid $40 an hour for OIA work. We would charge between $40 and $80 if we needed to charge a requestor to cover the additional cost. 

3.            If not, what does your organisation charge for photocopying, scanning or other copying of information and what is the hourly rate for staff time in compiling requests?

As above staff capacity is the issue for us so for larger or time consuming OIAs we’d use contractors and pay $40-$80  per hour, depending on the skills needed.

In the 12 months from 01 January 2020 to December 31, 2020:

4.            How many requests for information under the Official Information Act did your organisation receive?

15. We do also get complaints and inquiries which are technically OIAs of which there are about 500 a year.

5.            Of these, in how many was the requestor advised that they would incur charges for copying and staff time, or any other reason?

We advised a requester we may need to charge but this was resolved without that being necessary.

6.            In how many of these, did the requestor pay the required charge for supplying of information?

Nil

7.            In total, how much did your organisation receive in payments for supplying information under the OIA?

Nil

8.            What were the largest 10 amounts paid by requestors in charges for fulfilling OIA requests?

Nil

If you need any more information from me, please let me know as soon as possible.

I understand that a decision on a request for information under the OIA should be made within 20 working days of receiving that request.

If you do not normally deal with official information requests, or you need advice on dealing with this request, guidance is available from the Ombudsman at www.ombudsman.parliament.nz.

Yours faithfully

[Requester]

Countering Violent Extremism Team Documents

In May 2021 an Official Information Act request was made for: 

"… documents relating to the work of OFLC’s Countering Violent Extremism team:

  1. A copy of the team’s work programme;
  2. OFLC’s 2020 briefing to the Incoming Minister for Internal Affairs stated that “We have started work on an integrated strategy to counter violent extremism online…” – A copy of the strategy;
  3. Copies of all briefings delivered to the Minister for Internal Affairs on the topics of countering violent extremism online and countering disinformation, dated from the last 12 months."

No documents fell within the scope of part 1 of the request.

One document was within scope of part 2 of the request. Digital Extremism and Dangerous Disinformation Strategy (draft) was withheld in full, pursuant to sections 9(2)(f)(iv) and 9(2)(g)(i) of the OIA.

Six documents were within the scope of part 3 of the request. Two were partially redacted.

Background Note for Meeting 17 February 2021 – taking an Integrated Approach to Online Harm. Redactions on page 6, pursuant to section 6(b) of the OIA.

Classification Office Research Project – National Survey on Misinformation / Disinformation. Appendix to this briefing was withheld in full, as the full research report was soon to be publicly available, pursuant to section 18(d) of the OIA.

These redacted documents can be downloaded here (PDF, 5.3MB)

The remaining four documents are:

Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Internal Affairs 2020 Overview (PDF, 1.2MB)

About Us: Protecting and Empowering New Zealanders (PDF, 1MB)

Rethinking the Way We Regulate Media in the Digital Age (PDF, 560KB)

Responding to the Rise of Violent Extremism and Disinformation Online (PDF, 1MB)

Cost of Misinformation Report

In July 2021 an Official Information Act request was made for:

“- the cost of your new misinformation survey/report info@classificationoffice.govt.nz  (including, separately, the direct costs (notably the polling company) and indirect costs including estimates of staff time),

- a copy of the proposal for this study (version that was given the go-ahead)

- copies of any briefings or advice to ministers and/or their offices on this study (whether in concept, or prior to yesterday's release of the results) and any responses from those ministers/offices,

- copies of any consultation material provided to other government agencies when this survey was being planned, and any comments to OFLC from those agencies,

- copies of any briefing etc provided to government agencies on the results of the survey and the report you wrote on them.”


Our response is as follows.

All documents and information discussed below can be found here (PDF, 21.2MB)

Thank you for your request made pursuant to the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA), dated 1 July 2021. 

We have reviewed your request and identified eight documents that fall within scope of your request. Please see below:  

The cost of your new misinformation survey/report info@classificationoffice.govt.nz  (including, separately, the direct costs (notably the polling company) and indirect costs including estimates of staff time)

The following table provides the details requested about the direct and indirect costs:

Direct Costs (research company) =

$70,200

Indirect Costs

 

Report production including printing  design, proofing )

$14,700

Staff time (based on 2 research staff working for approximately 7.5 months at 3.25 days per week between November 2020 and June 2021)

$77,200

Total

$162,100

 

A copy of the proposal for this study (version that was given the go-ahead);

One document falls within scope of part 2 of your request and is attached.

Research brief for consultations- Redactions on page 1, pursuant to section 9(2)(a) of the OIA.

 

copies of any briefings or advice to ministers and/or their offices on this study (whether in concept, or prior to yesterday's release of the results) and any responses from those ministers/offices

Three documents fall within the scope of part 3 of your request. These are attached:

Email sent to Minister Tinetti’s Office- Redactions on page 18, pursuant to section 9(2)(a) of the OIA.

Briefing to Minister Tinetti entitled Classification Office Research Project- National Survey on Misinformation/Disinformation (dated 3 March 2021);

Appendix A- Final Survey Questions.

 

Copies of any consultation material provided to other government agencies when this survey was being planned, and any comments to OFLC from those agencies;

This is to note that the same document provided in part 2 of your request was emailed to other government agencies for feedback.

Two documents fall within the scope of part four of your request. These are:

Emails sent to other government agencies including their responses, if any – Redactions on page 46, out of scope of this OIA request;

Redactions on page 47, 49, 50, 51, 53, 55, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, pursuant to section 9(2)(a)  of the OIA-

Redactions on page 67 pursuant to section 9(2)(g)(i)  of the OIA.

Feedback from DPMC received on 30 October 2020- Redactions on page 70, pursuant to section 9(2)(a) of the OIA-

Redactions on page 70, 79, 82, 83, pursuant to section 9(2)(g)(i) of the OIA.

 

Copies of any briefing etc provided to government agencies on the results of the survey and the report you wrote on them.

On 9 June we shared a draft report with DPMC alongside data tables relating to Covid-19 and vaccines. The primary purpose was to get feedback on the draft report, and to respond to a specific request about only Covid/vaccine related material.

Two documents fall within the scope of part 5 of your request. These are:

Email sent to government agencies- Redactions on page 91, pursuant to section 9(2)(a) of the OIA

Power point presentation in hardcopy was provided to DIA and DPMC.

In making this decision, I have weighed up the factors in the OIA, including the purposes in section 4 and the principle of availability in section 5. 

If you are unhappy with the decision to withhold information outlined above, you have the right to make a complaint and seek a review of this decision from the Ombudsman, pursuant to section 28(3) of the OIA.   More information about this process is available on their website.

Thank you for your interest in the work of the Classification Office.

Questions regarding the Misinformation Report

This OIA request is related to a report produced by the Classification Office. The request was:

May 14 2021

Dear Classifications Office, I hope this finds you well.

I have been reading your recently released report and I am having a difficult time understanding it.

It does not include a glossary and so I am not able to define the terms used.

Of particular importance is the term Misinformation as it plays a central role in the publication.

One reference in the report that is of particular concern is to "Claims that Covid-19 is no more dangerous than the common flu" and seems to suggest that this statement would qualify as Misinformation. This is in the second paragraph of the introduction and so has a prominent place in the report.

The obvious problem with this being labeled as Misinformation is that large numbers of very well qualified professionals cite data driven research that demonstrates exactly that. There is clearly a legitimate scientific debate there and like your office acknowledges  "The Classification Office cannot restrict or ban content on the basis of fairness, balance or accuracy.".

 

My questions for you are 

 What is the definition of Misinformation used by the Classification Office and/or the authors of this report.?

 Is it the view of the Office that describing the danger of COVID 19 as comparable to the common flu, is Misinformation?

 If yes, what process has been followed in making this determination?

 Who determines what is Misinformation and what is information? 

 How can this process be contested?

 

 I am requesting the answers under the OIA and appreciate the time you take in answering my questions.

 

Kind Regards


Our response was as follows:

Thank you for your email and request for information under the Official Information Act 1982. This was received on 2 July, 2021. I have responded to your questions below.

What is the definition of Misinformation used by the Classification Office and/or the authors of this report?

This is a complex topic and a lot of thought has gone into the terminology used. You can find an explanation of terminology on page 11 of the research report.

You can find additional information about the methodology in this PDF document, including a full list of statements associated with misinformation for the purposes of analysis.

Is it the view of the Office that describing the danger of COVID 19 as comparable to the common flu, is Misinformation?

 The report does not make any specific assertions about the comparability of COVID 19 and the common flu.

However, the Chief Censor’s introduction states:

“Many of us will have read articles online, seen posts, or had conversations that seem completely at odds with what we know about the virus. Claims that Covid-19 is no more dangerous than the common flu, or even that it is a hoax.”

We’re comfortable with making this observation in the introduction to the report. The statement “Covid-19 is no more dangerous than the common flu” is one that we would associate with misinformation based on the available scientific evidence – and also taking into account the context in which this sort of statement may be used in conjunction with other forms of misinformation in order to downplay the dangers presented by the virus.

While the term ‘dangerous’ could be interpreted in different ways, it seems clear that Covid-19 has proved to be significantly deadlier than typical strains of the common flu, with almost four million confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic. You can read more about the differences between Covid-19 and influenza here, here, here, here, and here.

It’s also important to note that the report acknowledges that evidence may continue to emerge on various topics, and the Introduction goes on to say:

“It is quite possible that one or more of the subjects we associated with misinformation in this research might yet turn out to be not so misinformed after all with the emergence of new evidence. History tells us that truth is not fixed and immutable, and it is healthy for diverse and inclusive societies to accommodate a broad range of views and beliefs.”

In any case, this specific statement was not included in the survey itself and does not form part of the findings or analysis in the body of the report.

If yes, what process has been followed in making this determination?

As above, we did not make any claim about whether Covid-19 is ‘comparable’ to the flu. We do believe the idea that Covid-19 being “no more dangerous” than the common flu is associated with misinformation, based on current evidence and broad scientific consensus.

Who determines what is Misinformation and what is information?

We based our research analysis on general consensus around key topics and prior research, in consultation with a range of subject matter experts. The term ‘misinformation’ has a specific meaning in the report (see the link provided above about terminology), and we are satisfied that statements or beliefs characterised in the report as being associated with misinformation meet this definition. Again, there may be cases where new evidence emerges that challenges the idea that some of these beliefs are in fact associated with misinformation. In any case, as stated previously, the comment you have highlighted in the Introduction did not form part of our research analysis.

How can this process be contested?

I have outlined above the approach we took in this research project for identifying specific statements as being associated with misinformation, and provided links to further information about our methodology and terminology. I hope this response is useful.

Ngā mihi

Handmaid's Tale Request

The request was:

"I'm writing to ask whether the comic or "graphic novel" adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale has been classified in New Zealand? The illustrator is Renee Nault and it's based on the original novel by Margaret Atwood. 

My questions are: 

Has this book been submitted, assessed, categorised or reviewed by the NZ Classification Office or the Chief Censor? 

Is there any internal correspondence relating to this novel? 

This second question may fall under the OIA. 

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. 

Ngaa mihi"


We confirmed the book hadn’t been classified by our Office and hasn’t been submitted to us.

With no internal correspondence relating to this graphic novel, the request was declined under section 18 (g) of the Official Information Act.