Our role can be a little complicated, so here's an overview of what we do and don't do. For more information, you can download our factsheet.
Why we exist
We work to inform and empower New Zealanders to watch content in a positive way while safeguarding them from harm. Our role is changing in the digital age, but classifying content remains a core part of what we do.
The Classification Office is an independent Crown entity and media regulator operating at arm's length from central government.
The Minister of Internal Affairs is responsible for managing the Government's relationship with the Classification Office.
We receive submissions and can call in publications that may need to be restricted or banned under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (Classification Act). We then put them through our classification process to arrive at a decision which we record in a register.
What we do and what others do
What is a "publication"?
The definition of a "publication" in the Classification Act is pretty much anything that includes video, images, sound or text, either analogue or digital, including:
- Films, content on streaming or video on-demand services, video cassettes, CDs, DVDs, hard drives or games.
- Social media posts, GIFs and digital files on computers or phones, and web pages in some circumstances.
- Books, newspapers, magazines, or any other print or writing.
- Sound recordings.
- Pictures, photographs, or anything with words, images, or symbols printed on it (over the years, we have classified items including comics, bumper stickers, emails, T-shirts and campervans).
How we make decisions
The classification process involves examining the material, considering it against criteria in the Classification Act, and drafting a decision. We occasionally consult with stakeholders with appropriate expertise or experience, for example, when making decisions that affect young people or which involve new technology. The decision is then reviewed and affirmed by two senior classification advisors who have delegated authority to make decisions on behalf of the Chief Censor.
Once a publication has been classified, the decision is entered into the New Zealand Register of Classification Decisions and made available on our website. Where the decision relates to a commercial DVD, film or game, we then direct the Film and Video Labelling Body to issue a label for physical media.
Anyone unhappy with a classification decision we've made can request a new review of the content by the Film and Literature Board of Review (provided it's a recent decision), or they may apply for a reconsideration.
- We are transparent with each other and with Aotearoa.
- We are honest in what we say and decisions are made with integrity.
- We speak up – even when it may not be popular – and are courageous in our work.
- We treat each other fairly, equally and with equity in our daily lives.
- We collaborate with each other, experts, external agencies and the New Zealand public.
- We care for each other, for the work we do and for all New Zealanders.