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.