Bill Hastings (censor)

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William Kenneth Hastings was New Zealand's tenth Chief Censor, from October 1999 to July 2010. He was Chairperson of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal from July 2010 until February 2013, and is currently a District Court Judge.


Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada in 1957, he attended Lord Roberts Public School, graduated from Midland Avenue Collegiate Institute, holds a BA from the University of Trinity College, University of Toronto, law degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School and the London School of Economics, and was a practising barrister. He moved to New Zealand in 1985.[1] Before becoming Chief Censor, he was Deputy and Acting Chief Censor from December 1998 to October 1999, Senior Lecturer in Law (teaching Legal System and International Law), Deputy Dean of Law, and a member of the governing Council, at Victoria University of Wellington. He was also briefly the Video Recordings Authority in 1994, a member of the Indecent Publications Tribunal from 1990 to 1994 and Deputy President of the Film and Literature Board of Review from 1995 to 1998. In 2010 he stood down as Chief Censor when he became a District Court Judge and Chair of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.[2] He was succeeded by Andrew Jack.

Role as Chief Censor[edit]

In 1998, he was appointed Deputy Chief Censor at the Office of Film and Literature Classification by the Governor-General of New Zealand on the recommendation of the Jenny Shipley-led National coalition government. In 1999, he was appointed Chief by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Helen Clark-led Labour coalition government for a three-year term in 1999, a one-year term in 2002, another three-year term in 2003 and a third three-year term late in 2006.

In 2002, Hastings appeared in the public eye when he made censorship decisions on highly controversial films, particularly Baise-moi and Visitor Q, both of which were scheduled for screening at the Beck's Incredible Film Festival. In 2003, Hastings again appeared in the public eye when the computer game Manhunt was banned by his office, making its possession in New Zealand illegal. Following a meeting in Toronto on 22 December 2003 between Hastings and officials from the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services, Manhunt became the first computer game in Ontario to be classified as a film and restricted to adults in February 2004.

The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards in particular has accused Hastings of being a "gay activist" promoting homosexuality and promiscuity by giving too liberal classifications to films.[3] This estimation is contradicted by examination of the appeals against classifications; the Film and Literature Board of Review found classifications too liberal in only 3.5% of cases under Hastings – in contrast to 27% under his predecessor, Kathryn Paterson[4] – and has upheld 82% of OFLC decisions made under Hastings.[5]

Apart from his professional role, some have taken issue with one aspect of his personal life in particular: Hastings is openly homosexual.[6] Some of these critics include the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards; Graham Capill, former Leader of the Christian Heritage Party; Brian Tamaki in the "Media: The New Witchcraft" section of a DVD produced by the Destiny Church for the 2005 general election; Peter Brown MP, Deputy Leader of the New Zealand First Party; and Pastor Ralph Ovadal's Pilgrims Covenant Church, a fundamentalist Christian church in Monroe, Wisconsin.[7] Indeed, one commentator has said that Hastings' gay identity "has become a valuable touchstone, frequently revealing the real agenda of certain pro-censorship pressure groups."

On 21 June 2010, Hastings was appointed a District Court Judge and Chair of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal. Hastings was sworn in at Wellington on 9 July 2010.[8] In April 2013 he was succeeded as Chairperson of the Tribunal by Judge Carrie Wainwright and began sitting full-time as a District Court judge.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The structure and staff". Office of Film and Literature Classification. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Guy, Nathan (21 June 2010). "New Chief Censor to be appointed". New Zealand Government. Archived from the original on 12 July 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "Chief Censor Misuses Living Word",, 15 November 2005, archived from the original on 30 September 2007, retrieved 2007-11-01 
  4. ^, retrieved 2007-12-03  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^, retrieved 2007-12-03  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Lobby group slams Censor's 'gay agenda'",, 14 October 2007, archived from the original on 15 October 2007, retrieved 2007-11-01 
  7. ^ Goodenough, Patrick (12 March 2003), "Videos On Homosexuality: Free Speech Or Hate Speech?",, archived from the original (– Scholar search) on 23 August 2004, retrieved 1 November 2007 
  8. ^ New District Court Judge and Chair of Immigration and Protection Tribunal Appointed, 21 June 2010, archived from the original on 27 July 2010, retrieved 24 June 2010 
  9. ^ "New Immigration and Protection Tribunal Chair appointed". 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2014-06-27. 

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