In a dramatic move, New Zealand banned its first book in decades on Monday. The award-winning teen novel, Into The River, won the New Zealand Post children’s book of the year in 2013 and includes portrayals of sex and bullying. Auckland-based author Ted Dawe did not see the ban coming.
“It’s extraordinary,” Dawe told the New Zealand Herald. “I’ve had quite a few emails from people who share that sense of outrage. Do we live in a country where books get banned? I’ll get burnt next.”
In the book, a Maori boy wins a scholarship to an exclusive Auckland boarding school but faces racism and struggles with drugs.
The Film and Literature Board of Review called the ban temporary. No book had been banned since the legislation authorizing the board to do so was introduced in 1993. Conservative lobby group Family First New Zealand reported the book to the censor, offended by the details of the sex acts, coarse language and drug-taking.
The book received an R-14 restriction at first, however Nic McCully, deputy chief censor, later removed the restriction. That’s when Family First complained and the Film and Literature