Censorship and ratings policy

The resources in the Library collection are subject to New Zealand censorship and ratings laws.

The Library complies with the Copyright Act 1994 and the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act and upholds censorship decisions made by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC).

Print materials

The Library receives notifications of censorship decisions and regularly scans the OFLC decisions databases. Items requiring ratings information are labelled and placed in closed access collections as necessary.

If a book contains material that is likely to make it an objectionable publication (banned) then it is illegal for a library to make the book available. Books dealing with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence may be submitted for classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification if there is concern that the book should be restricted.

Audiovisual material

The Library collects a range of audiovisual materials including:

  • educational material
  • feature films
  • documentaries
  • music
  • DVDs
  • filmed opera, plays, and music performances.

New Zealand universities have rights to copy free to air sources and subscribed to pay television services through the Universities’ Audiovisual Copyright Screenrights License.

All audiovisual materials must comply with the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 and the Films, Videos, and Publications Amendment Act 2005, and display the same ratings information as for feature films, for example: “M—suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over”, and “Restricted R18—restricted to persons 18 and under”. New Zealand ratings are applied by the New Zealand Film and Video Labelling Body.


Only unrestricted films qualify for exemption. These are films which:

  • are wholly or mainly of an educational, scientific, religious, political, or historical nature
  • depict wholly or mainly sporting events, commercial advertisement, or natural scenery
  • record an event (e.g. a wedding) for those who took part in the event (or are connected with those who did so).

Acquisitions process

The Library prefers to purchase audiovisual material through a New Zealand supplier who manages the rating process on our behalf. Some material is sourced through overseas suppliers. The Library is required to label items already rated and to send unrated items to the Film and Video Labelling Body for rating prior to being made available in the Library. Rating and labelling information is added to the  item’s record in Te Waharoa. Compliance with FVLB rating and labelling processes means that there may be a delay in making audiovisual items available for library users.