Ministry health

Caroline Flora, patron of the Ministry of Health, appointed new chief censor

Interior Minister Jan Tinetti has announced the appointment of a new chief censor.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Interior Minister Jan Tinetti has announced the appointment of a new chief censor.

Caroline Flora, associate deputy director general at the Ministry of Health, will take up her duties as chief censor next month.

Home Secretary Jan Tinetti confirmed his appointment on Wednesday morning, more than a month after the departure of former chief censor David Shanks from the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

He served in this role for five years, beginning with a three-year term which was extended for two years in 2020. He joined the Censor’s Office after working as Director of Health and Safety at the Ministry of Education.

During his time, he saw the media and communications landscape change dramatically through technological transformation and was called upon to use his powers to suppress terrorist activity after the attacks of March 15, 2019.

He was a vocal censor, who often discussed his concerns and reasoning in media interviews. He also noted that the role of the censor has changed with technology and called for broader thinking about how to mitigate the harm caused by dangerous or objectionable content in the digital age.

The range of issues ranged from banning terrorist manifestos and murder videos to handling streaming giants’ responsibilities around shows such as 13 Reasons Why and launching education campaigns around pornography.

David Shanks left the post of chief censor, in the Office of Film, Literature and Classification, in May.

Rosa Woods / Stuff

David Shanks left the post of chief censor, in the Office of Film, Literature and Classification, in May.

Flora would begin the new role on July 20, with a three-year term, Tinetti said.

In addition to working in the Ministry of Health, responsible for the strategies and performance of its system, Flora has also worked with the police.

She had a legal background, Tinetti said, and leadership experience in public service.

“Flora will continue the vital work of protecting New Zealanders from potentially harmful content, while balancing the important right to freedom of expression,” she said.

After Shanks’ departure, deputy chief censor Rupert Ablett-Hampson had acted as chief censor and would continue to do so until Flora’s arrival at the end of next month.

Ablett-Hampson used his power to ban a white supremacist killer’s manifesto in May. The manifesto was published by an 18-year-old American who murdered 10 people in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. Ablett-Hampson said the manifesto shared ties to the March 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch.