Banned book removed from library

The only copy of a now banned book has been removed from Tauranga City Library’s young adult’s section and ‘put aside’ says city libraries manager Jill Best.

The award-winning Kiwi novel Into The River by Auckland author Ted Dawe has been banned following complaints regarding sexually explicit content.

People are no longer permitted to buy or borrow prize-winning New Zealand coming of age story Into The River, which has been removed from the shelves of Tauranga City Library. photo: File.

The interim ban makes it a crime to supply, display or distribute the book in any way.

Individuals and organisations who knowingly supply the banned book are now liable of fines of up to $3000 and $10,000 respectively, with the ban including schools and libraries.

President of the Film and Literature Board of Review Don Mathieson, QC, issued the interim order, banning the book until the full board can consider whether it should be restricted.

He has overturned last month’s decision by deputy chief censor Nick McCully that made the book unrestricted, which itself overturned an earlier review board order making the book R14.

As a result, since Into The River won the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in June 2013, it has been unrestricted, restricted to children under-14, unrestricted again, and now subsequently banned.

The last time a book on the library shelves was banned was “enough years ago that I can’t remember,” says Jill.

“We have to abide by the law, so we are waiting to see what happens with the full decision again.

“It is unusual that a person in that positon would take such an action. It’s been only a month since a decision on it was made.”

It’s rare for a book to be removed because of a legal situation, says Jill.

“There is a challenge from time to time from a customer,” she admits.

“There’s a student in library school in Wellington at the moment who’s doing a thesis on which books have been challenged, so we wracked our brains trying to remember.”

However, removing Into The River from the shelves isn’t likely to upset a lot of readers. Jill says that in the two-and-a-half years Tauranga City Libraries has had a copy of the book in question, it’s been taken out only four times.

“We only have one copy as it happens because it wasn’t particularly popular,” explains Jill.

Ted Dawe’s Into the River was named the 2013 Margaret Mahy book of the year and was also the winner of the young adult fiction category at the 2013 awards, held in Christchurch.

’”We were delighted to see a book that both engaged and respected older readers, with material as subtle as it is honest and provocative,” said chief judge Bernard Beckett at the time.

The book is banned because of lobbying by a group called Family First and the decision by Don Mathieson, who wrote a dissenting view advocating an R18 restriction when the majority of the board rated the book R14 in 2013.

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Hmmmm..... Big brother strikes again...

Posted on 17-06-2018 23:19 | By GreertonBoy

However.... has Big Brother not heard of ebay? Amazon? Ebooks? BTW... what is a Library? Oh yeah, I forgot they still had them. I have to say also, banning it is the best publicity the book can have I reckon... well done censors

Banned NZ??????

Posted on 08-09-2015 22:06 | By Silent Lambs

Perhaps one now starts to realise that NZ writers are being singled out, then all turn around and wonder why all the shelves are full of imports. I think it all loks like sensorship to me, tells on the public what they can and cant think. Obviously now it is a must read as this is likely the best advertising in the area for a while.

50 shades of grey?

Posted on 08-09-2015 22:01 | By Silent Lambs

Perhaps this is around the wrong way, maybe libraries should be banned from having books, that would release ratepayers from a $10 million burden annually and some 150 odd staff.

pathetic pontificating

Posted on 08-09-2015 14:48 | By Kaimai

Did Don Mathieson, QC tell Amazon?or Book Depository? Its a shame Family First haven’t got more serious issues to concern themselves with.


Posted on 08-09-2015 13:19 | By overit

Does anyone know where I can get a copy. I never read 50 Shades of Grey but would like to read this Kiwi book. Of course all the publicity now makes it a "must read" so we can judge its content for ourselves.

Here we go again

Posted on 08-09-2015 04:10 | By Kenworthlogger

So is this going to be like 50 shades of grey? Even that was not banned!

Banning the available

Posted on 07-09-2015 21:16 | By Jenny Argante

This book is currently available as a Kindle ebook and I bet banning it will bring the writer in - an award-winning writer of high reputation, let us remember - a goodly amount of additional income. Are we going to have the police stopping us in the street ior checking the free Kindle readers on our home PCs to see if we have a copy of the book. Many of us already possess a copy because of the controversy around it. Should we trot down to the police station like obedient children - I am 70 - and hand it over? Oh dear. Someone may be knocking on my door tomorrow with a search warrant to see if I DO have a copy. I did - and it was soo good I handed it on. Better check the op shops too...


Posted on 07-09-2015 17:53 | By morepork

I have no desire whatsoever to read this book (it is of no interest to me except perhaps as a piece of literature), but I am incensed that a lobby group are able to ensure I CAN’T read it. Are we still such children that we let Nanny decide what we can and cannot read? Censorship is just half a step down from public book burning and any place where they burn books, it isn’t too long before they start burning people. If you are likely to be offended by a book (or film for that matter) then don’t go to it. I thought we had gotten over all this after "Lady Chatterley’s Lover", which was banned for a while, but, by today’s standards, is pretty tame. This is just stupid and embarrassing and lumps us with the State of Victoria, where they banned Noddy books for political incorrectness.

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