Parliament has changed the law to help avoid a repetition of the banning of award-winning children's novel Into the River.

When an interim restriction order was issued against the in 2015 an anomaly in the law meant it could only be left age unrestricted or banned entirely until the board of review met.

The book, written by Ted Dawe, was banned for six weeks after concerns were raised about its depictions of underage sex. The restriction was lifted when the interim order was reviewed.

The bill passed yesterday lets the censor board issue interim orders based on age or specified classes of persons.

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National MP Chris Bishop drafted the bill and it passed its earlier stages before the election.

"In the case of Into the River, it would have meant the book could have reverted to its R14 status rather than banning it outright," he said after his bill had been unanimously passed.

"It is clear that Into the River should not have been banned - this small but useful change will help ensure such a situation doesn't happen again."

Into the River is about a 14-year-old Maori boy's life at a boarding school.

The Herald on Sunday reported about the controversial novel in 2013 after concerns the content laced with sex and drug use was seen as suitable for children with a reading age of 13 years. The book was banned until the censorship board reviewed it.

- NZ Newswire