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“Indecent” book seized from Wellington bookshop

“Indecent” book seized from Wellington bookshop

23 Nov 2011

A copy of Bloody Mama, banned in 1971 by the now defunct Indecent Publications Tribunal has been seized today (Wednesday) from Book Haven in Newton, Wellington by the Internal Affairs Department.

Book Haven’s owner Don Hollander was shocked when his store manager Sam Duckor-Jones told him that Phil Priest of Internal Affairs had called to say a complaint had been received that Book Haven had the banned book in stock and that he would come and seize it.

“I hate the thought of books being banned. We should protest strongly about any books being banned,” said Don.

Booksellers NZ CEO, Lincoln Gould said that although the Indecent Publications Tribunal is now defunct, their decisions are still enforceable. However, he was by told by Mr Priest that Black Mama by Robert Thorn published by New English Library would be resubmitted to the Chief Censor for a new classification.

“Anyone interested can make a submission to the Chief Censor and Booksellers NZ will certainly do that. Like Don, we hate the idea of books being banned. It’s hard to know how this book could be classed as “indecent” these days,” said Lincoln.

Bloody Mama is a true story about Kate “Ma” Barker and her sons who were involved in gang activities in the 1930.

Wikipedia describes her as “the mother of several criminals who ran the Barker gang from the "public enemy era", when the exploits of gangs of criminals in the U.S. Midwest gripped the American people and press. Others included Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger”.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification lists Bloody Mama as being “Indecent within the meaning of the Indecent Publications Act 1963”.

The Act and the Indecent Publications Tribunal remained in force until they were replaced by the current Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 and the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

A film was also made about Ma Barker including in the cast a then very young Robert de Niro. It too was banned in 1971 but then reclassified in 1981 as R16.

Read further information on books that are banned in New Zealand.


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