Before 1987 the Film Censor classified films (and videos) which were to be shown in a public setting such as a cinema, but there was no law controlling privately viewed videos. The Video Labelling Body (VLB) and the Video Recordings Authority (VRA) were established to regulate videos which were for private use.
The Video Labelling Body was set up to manage unrestricted videos by giving them the equivalent New Zealand label to the one they had received in Australia or the UK. This system was called cross-rating and is still used for unrestricted level films, videos, and DVDs.
The Video Recordings Authority classified restricted and banned videos under criteria set in The Video Recordings Act 1987. Mostly, they classified sexually explicit videos intended for sale in adult shops and through mail order. Many were submitted to them by the Customs Department who had seized them at the border.
In some cases, distributors of adult videos would get them classified through the Film Censor (on the grounds that they were to be shown in adult-only cinemas). Occasionally, the same video would end up with different classifications from the two organisations. This situation was resolved when the VRA and the Film Censor's office were replaced in 1994 by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. The Office of Film and Literature Classification has responsibility for classifying all types of restricted-level films/DVDs and other publications.
Decisions of the VRA remain in force unless a new decision is made by the Classification Office.