New Zealand lifts ban on YA novel

New Zealand lifts ban on YA novel

New Zealand has lifted its temporary ban on Into the River, a novel aimed at teenage boys by Ted Dawe, saying putting restriction on sales of the book is "unjustifiable".

The New Zealand Film and Literature Board had announced the temporary ban following complaints from Family First, a Christian charity that wanted to "protect the public good", especially children and young people, from the book’s themes, which included sex and drug taking.

However, the board said yesterday that a ban was not justifiable because although the book describes a number of "unacceptable, offensive and objectionable" behaviours, it "does not in any way promote them".

Dawe told the New Zealand Herald he was "thrilled", adding: "It has restored my faith in New Zealand's legal system."

Margaret Thompson, the m.d. of his publisher, Penguin Random House New Zealand, said: "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."

She said the book will continue to be published with a parental advisory warning on its cover to help parents assess its suitability for their child.

However, Family First criticised the board’s "flip-flip position" and said it had "kowtowed to pressure from the book industry".

"A dangerous precedent has been set and parents will now feel disempowered and that their concerns will be ignored regarding similar books which they may not want their young teenagers and pre-teens to be reading. This is a loss for the ability for families to protect their children from age-inappropriate material that is disturbing and harmful," said director Bob McCoskrie.