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Rating Removal a Victory for Freedom of Expression

14 October 2015

Media Release

Rating Removal a Victory for Freedom of Expression

Penguin Random House New Zealand is delighted that the Film and Literature Board of Review has reached a majority decision that will allow Into the River to once again be freely available to young readers in New Zealand. The Board’s decision to uphold the removal of the R14 restriction by the Classification Office in August will allow the book to be freely distributed in future and openly displayed in libraries, especially school libraries, which we know play such a valuable role in guiding young people’s reading choices.

The previous R14 restriction imposed soon after Into the River won New Zealand’s supreme award for children’s literature, the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award in 2013, has denied the book the exposure it so richly deserves.

Penguin Random House has greatly appreciated the outpouring of support for our author Ted Dawe and his excellent novel from within New Zealand and around the world. More than 50 submissions and emails in support of Into the River were received by the Film and Literature Board of Review following the decision of the Board’s President to impose an Interim Restriction on the book last month, preventing it from being distributed within New Zealand.

Penguin Random House New Zealand Managing Director, Margaret Thompson, said the company was delighted the book’s intended audience will now be able to access the book freely, as it grapples with important issues, including racism and bullying, that are relevant to young New Zealanders today, particularly teenage male readers. As acknowledged by the Film and Literature Board of Review Into the River is ‘likely to inform and educate the intended readers about the potentially negative consequences that can follow from involvement in casual sex, underage drinking, drug taking, crime, violence and bullying’.

The Board noted that the book served a useful purpose in ‘raising these issues for thought and debate and creating a context which might help young adults think more deeply about choices they may be called upon to make.’

Margaret Thompson said Penguin Random House New Zealand was proud to be the publisher of Into the River, a high-quality work of literature for young adults which had won critical acclaim from some of New Zealand’s most respected writers and literary critics.

‘The Board’s majority decision is a victory for freedom of expression and the right of authors and publishers to deal with the challenging social issues young people face today in high-quality works of literature.’

In response to the Board’s decision to uphold the removal of the R14 restriction by the Classification Office Ted Dawe said ‘I am thrilled. It has restored my faith in New Zealand’s legal system.’

Into the River will continue to display a parental advisory warning on its cover to assist parents in assessing its suitability for their child.


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