Decision to place an interim ban on Into the River alarming
Decision to place an interim ban on Into the River alarming for Kiwi readers
The New Zealand Book Council is dedicated to encouraging a vibrant reading culture in New Zealand. We are therefore alarmed by the Film and Literature Board of Review’s decision to issue an interim restriction order for access to Into the River by Ted Dawe.
The ban means that a highly regarded, award-winning young adult novel cannot be sold or distributed by anyone, and will not be available to readers until October when the Board will consider placing a permanent an age restriction rating for the book.
The New Zealand Book Council does not support the move to introduce a permanent age restriction for Into the River. This would mean that the novel could not be openly displayed on shelves in bookstores and libraries, and will drastically limit readers’ awareness of the novel and their ability to discover it.
The decision to impose an age restriction on a novel will set a dangerous precedent, which could lead to more books being restricted in New Zealand.
Peter Biggs, Chair of the Board of the New Zealand Book Council said that “The New Zealand Book Council is committed to opening up choices for readers and believes that access to books and reading is fundamental. Into the River is a challenging and ambitious novel that explores the reality of what many young people are struggling with in New Zealand today.
Furthermore, placing a permanent age restriction on Into the River will restrict the ability of family and whanau to make a decision on what is appropriate reading for their children; it will limit access for mature, advanced young readers.
Research demonstrates that reading fiction provides opportunities for people to understand real-life struggles that they may not otherwise be exposed to. For those experiencing any of the difficulties that are portrayed in this novel, a ban prevents an opportunity for others to understand, acknowledge or relate to their situation”.