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The Act thus spelt out for the first time the distinction between work which was of 'literary, scientific, or artistic, merit' and that which was not.The purpose, according to the Attorney General, John Findlay, was to protect the 'liberty which improves and ennobles a nation' while removing the 'license which degrades.' Regulations were introduced during WWI, 'aimed at films which might discourage army recruitment by showing the conditions under which the war was being fought.It incorporated provisions from previous acts, and strengthened the law allowing the searching of premises and the seizure of 'indecent' and 'obscene' material.

The words 'in the opinion of the censor' imparted sweeping discretionary powers.

Film distributors were, however, given the right to appeal the censor's decision to a three-person board appointed by the Minister of Internal Affairs.

When questioned in the house about this clause, the Minister of Internal Affairs indicated it was specifically included so films could be censored for political reasons, in particular their effect on army recruitment.

The 1916 Act also made provision for films to be restricted to specified classes of persons.

In 1920 however, a system of recommendary classifications was introduced.

A 'U' certificate denoted that a film was suitable for everyone, while an 'A' classification indicated that a film was considered by the censor to be suitable for adults only.

The screening of such a film in Timaru, which included shots of the dead and wounded, appears to have provoked the move.'Paul Christoffel, , passed in August, made it illegal to show any film which had not first been approved by a government-appointed censor.

Virtually the only directive given the censor was that no film should be approved which 'in the opinion of the censor, depicts any matter that is against public order and decency, or the exhibition of which for any other reason is, in the opinion of the censor, undesirable in the public interest'.

For each item, we include references to the source of the information so that you can read more about the topic if you want to.

banned any picture or printed or written matter which was of an indecent, immoral, or obscene nature, which included advertisements relating to such matters as venereal disease.

Comic books were initially reprints of newspaper comic strips.

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