The Leading Edge 9 September 2015
If you want to be well informed about Ted Dawe’s controversial book Into the River, I wouldn’t recommend relying on the mainstream media coverage about it.
Firstly, despite what most media outlets are reporting, the book has not been banned, it has simply been placed under a temporary interim restriction order while the legal issues around its classification are resolved.
If you are relying on mainstream media coverage for information about this incident, you would be forgiven for wrongly believing that New Zealand has fallen prey to some form of Orwellian dystopian state that is about to start burning books in a frenzied attempt to destroy artistic freedom of expression.
You would also be forgiven for not being aware of the fact that one of the serious issues currently under investigation in relation to Into the River is whether the Chief Censor actually broke the law by removing its classification and making the book available without restriction in New Zealand.
In fact, most people seem to be completely unaware of what this incident is actually all about.
A lot of people I have seen commenting on this matter don’t seem to understand that the book originally had an R14 rating due to it’s content, and that the problems arose when the Chief Censor removed this rating from the book, meaning that it could legally be made available to a child of any age in New Zealand.
Author Ted Dawe defends his controversial teen novel Into the River
Stuff co.nz 20 September 2015
Auckland author Ted Dawe is deep in controversy, but he refuses to be sunk by censorship.
Christian lobby group Family First applied for a R18 classification after Into the River won the Book of the Year at the Children’s Book Awards 2013.
The book flipped between a “M” and R14 rating during the ongoing row over restricted status.
Family First director Bob McCoskrie said although they would prefer the R18 rating, they have sent a submission calling for a R14 restriction.
“We certainly don’t think it should be a free-for-all for primary aged children,” he said.
The conservative group were concerned by the adult themes, sexually explicit content and bad language.
“It’s not just about this particular book, but the benchmark the censorship office is setting in what’s appropriate.”
There were plenty of great authors who told stories without offending and insulting people, he said.
McCoskrie said he was not concerned the interim ban had brought worldwide attention to the teen novel.
“When people read the book they will agree with our concerns. Everybody just needs to hold their breathe and in a few weeks it will be solved.”