Attorney-General Chris Finlayson says the Government should review the law on the classification of books after the interim ban on Ted Dawe's teenage novel Into The River.

Mr Finlayson said the decision to ban the sale and supply of the book for teenagers until a review of its classification was done seemed an "extreme step".

"Banning books is not really the sort of thing we do in New Zealand is it? I would think if that's the case maybe it's time we looked at the legislation ... Interim banning raises some pretty interesting questions about freedom of speech and freedom of expression."

As Attorney-General, Mr Finlayson is charged with Bill of Rights Act vetting of legislation.


Last week the president of the Film and Literature Board of Review put an interim restriction on Into The River - the first such ban in New Zealand.

That means it is banned from sale until after the review board meets to decide on its classification in October.

The Family First lobby group had objected after the Censor's Office removed the previous R14 classification on the book, making it unrestricted. Yesterday group head Bob McCoskrie said he had not wanted the book banned but had wanted the R14 classification restored and a warning on the book.

The Labour Party's arts and culture spokeswoman, Jacinda Ardern, was also concerned that a book could have even a temporary ban slapped on it.

Shop display a 'crime scene'

Time Out book shop in Mt Eden has become a mock crime scene, its display window covered with yellow police tape.

The Auckland bookshop has taken a stab at the decision to ban Into The River by Ted Dawe. A message on the store's Facebook page reads: "Our new window display is packed full of 'offensive' material that has been banned in various countries at various times. Into The River, by Ted Dawe, is in the forefront - though concealed in a paper bag, as it's illegal to display it."

Next to Dawe's book is Frankenstein, banned in 1955 in apartheid South Africa; Brave New World, banned in Ireland and Australia in the 1930s, and even the Bible and the Koran.

Store manager Jenna Todd said they had been selling the book since 2012. "It's a crime for us to sell it right now and consistently thinking about that is just really incredible."