Brian Edwards Media

When cartoonists go too far?


Al Nisbet cartoon 1

Marlborough Express 29/4/13

Al Nisbet cartoon 2

The Press 30/5/13

These cartoons by Al Nisbet were published in The Marlborough Express and The Press. The Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy, asks if the legal threshold for a finding of racism is too high.

Your comments are invited.

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  1. I think these “cartoons” are ugly, and have no legitimate place in New Zealand.

  2. i heard the cartoonist being interviewed this afternoon by john tamihere and willie jackson on radio live…he has a maori wife and seemed pretty laidback…jt and willy promised to drop in and have a beer next time they were in kaikoura where al nisbet lives..everyone departed with kia ora’s and laughter…?????

    • And so do they speak for every Maori and Polynesian human being out there. Just because they’re okay with it doesn;t mean to say it wasn’t racist because it actually was. It just goes to show when people get rather wealthy, they forget how hard some people do have it even if they are from the same race.

  3. I’ve been told Al Nisbet is unrepentant and reported as saying: “I was born in Scotland, we get stereotyped all the time. But you don’t hear Scots complaining because they’ve got a sense of humour.”

    If that’s the case he should have depicted the characters as Scottish and submitted the cartoon for publication in England.

    • . . . Yeah Right!

      I have no issue with these cartoons, there is an element of truth in them, however I am waiting to see pakeha equivelants . . . we have equally stupid families and attitudes :)

  4. I think they are fantastic, if we cant laugh at ourselves we are going to end up a pretty humorless society.

    • 4.1

      There’s nothing funny about them.

    • The problem is, JT, they’re not laughing at you – but at others.

    • They are misrepresenting and mocking people who are in terrible poverty- this is in no way funny.

      • 4.3.1

        Adolf Fiinkensein

        Why don’t you wake up? There is no such thing as ‘terrible poverty’ in New Zealand. The cartoons pinpoint the very reasons some families don’t feed their kids. Does it hurt to see it?

        Hey, where I grew up, most Maori would laugh their heads off and say. ‘Shit eh? This bugger knows what’s really going on eh!’

    • Sure but laughing at the expense of a whole race of people is appalling!!

  5. I didn’t notice any racism – I was busy being offended by it’s hokey derivativeness.

  6. The point Al Nisbet makes is not racist; that some bad or incompetent parents put pokie machines, booze, cigarettes and lotto tickets ahead of their children’s welfare.

    What is racist is that Mr Nisbet implies this is just a Maori/Pasifika problem. Look online at his previous work and check the skin colours he uses in other cartoons.

    @ rob: The fact that Mr Nisbet has a Maori wife is utterly irrelevant.

    • HOney, when you centre the picutre on the brown people, clearly you are depicting a certain race of people. Innuendo is that Maori and Pacifica are not fit parents and ‘some’ weirdo looking whites. What it does is distance Pakeha from the problem by making ‘others’ the negative stereotype, which they can safetly point fingers at. Pakeha would do well to look at their perspectives as just that perspectives and not the whole truth. If a cartoon is not uplifting it is contributing to the problem.

  7. Nisbet sez critics should “lighten up”.

    Well, commentators on certain right wing blogs seem to love the cartoons. I guess that says plenty about them (the images).

    Al Nisbet – icon for the redneck right?

    • Frank – I’m on what you’d call the ‘right’ and I disapprove of the cartoons. I also disapprove of you turning everything into a ‘left good, right bad’ rant.

      • So now “The Right’ considers one sentence a “Rant” ? The further to the Right I look the thinner the skin seems to get.

        • ……….. and whiter

          • Let me guess, Edmond: you’re one of those white guys who’s constantly apologising for the colour of your skin.

            One sentence doesn’t make a rant, but fit it in with Frank’s other blog posts (I’m shocked he hasn’t tried linking to any here) and you have the makings of a twisted manifesto indeed.

      • Mike… could I quote Al Nisbet back at you?

        Lighten up.

        See? Works wonders to resolve all problems.

    • I think you have a valid point here Frank. There is a section of our society which seems to find these cartoons acceptable. Hands up those who can’t see even a trace of racism in these pieces? Now keep your hands up if you vote for either Green or Labour. Hmmm… nobody?

      Of course there’s a rascist tone to both works, but for me that’s not Nisbet’s greatest crime here. While I’m especially fond of cartoons, I’ve never managed to find Nisbet’s work funny and an unfunny cartoon is as pointless as an ashtray on a motorcycle.

  8. I am totally comfortable with that. The characters are depicted in a rather civilised light compared to actuality. Sometimes, the truth does rankle.
    Susan Devoy is right: the cartoons aren’t racist; just an inconvenient truth, which may offend some.

    • 8.1

      Have you ever actually been in a low decile area metro, or just being an arshole?

    • What is this “inconvenient truth” you speak of, Metrognome?

      Are there any facts, stats, and other bits of info we can look at?

    • I’d love to see ‘funny’ cartoons of whites only ripping off the country for millions, because, hey aren’t they doing it left right and centre, now that’s hilarious isn’t it??

      • 8.3.1

        Adolf Fiinkensein

        I can point you to a few prominent brown buggers who have ripped the country off for millions.

  9. Frank,

    I’m firmly on the left of the political spectrum and don’t have an issue with them. It’s ironic that when Tariana Turia complains about Maori health stats being bad due to obesity and smoking, she is applauded for trying to help Maori. But when this is depicted in a cartoon about some people scamming the welfare system, including some Maori, it’s somehow different.

  10. “What is racist is that Mr Nisbet implies this is just a Maori/Pasifika problem.”

    He doesn’t imply that at all. You must’ve missed the fat white kids and slim white older folks. Or is this merely a case of faux outrage?

    • Ah yes, the “white kids” factor.

      I keep reading this little theme.

      It’s interesting to note that the actual kids in the top image are,

      (a) white

      (b) fit their uniforms

      (c) obviously school kids

      (d) the very people that Food in Schools is designed for.

      Now compare that to the two, most obvious larger characters, one of which is talking to the other. They are,

      (a) brown

      (b) their uniforms don’t fit them, indicating ?

      (c) obviously not school kids (as compared to the other 4)

      (d) obviously trying to rort the system

      So the four adults are included with the image of Deserving Poor Kids. The implication being that they are Undeserving Bludgers in comparison to the actual children.

      Once you analyse the imagery and the context of each character, you begin to realise why the four white children are included with the four adults – two of whom are obvious “bludgers”.

      This is amply reinforced in the second cartoon.

      It’s racism, of course. Subtle for some. Obvious to others. Invisible to the rest.

      If you doubt this, try a little experiment.

      Imagine the front two adults as obese whites and the four children as brown.

      • Jeeeeeezzzzzz Frank – what’s the issue? Of COURSE the adults uniforms don’t fit! I wouldn’t fit into a school uniform and I suspect you wouldn’t either! IT’S A BLOODY CARTOON! It’s riske, provokes reaction, maybe doesn’t quite CROSS the line but dances on it! THAT’S WHAT CARTOONS DO! IT’S THEIR JOB!

        The victim industry in New Zealand is alive and well, and thriving on the likes of precious tossers such as yourself who want humour (and OK – it’s only a smile I’m getting here – not a blelly laugh) cancelled for the entire nation.

        Now settle down. Bad humour isn’t a hanging offence, and sadly for you, may never be.

        Dear o’dear…..

    • Seriously, look at who is depicted as the central figure, not the pink or peach people, it’s the brown people. The whites are fillagry on the outside, how convenient though to say whites were shown, how blind are you when you can’t see who the problem people are being depicted as? When I look at the mono lisa I don’t notice the mountains in the background nor do I notice the detail in the dress! Case in point!

  11. In my youth I worked at the Ocean Beach freezing works at Bluff for a season. The smoko room had several stoves on which cooked pots of stuff that the boys had mostly nicked from carcasses on the chain and augmented with a few vegies. The boys generally had the body structure that Al Nisbett has caricatured. One day Matt Rata MP turned up and was beating the Labour drum over something or other. His oratory was totally ignored until one very large bloke stood up and said. “Why don’t you shut up and come and sit down and have a feed you fat hua”

    He did.

    Different days, nobody bitching about obesity or racism.

  12. Those cartoon caricatures insult my intelligence. They are portrayed as benign, likable, jovial, playful and amiable.

  13. Multicultural communities that can laugh at each other are healthy places. I had a good laugh.

  14. I’m a longtime card-carrying bleeding heart liberal, and for the life of me I can’t see what the fuss is about.

    Those who’ve worked in low-decile schools, or in providing health services to low-income people, will recognise the stereotype. It doesn’t follow that every poor family is like that, of course, but some surely are, and they will be taking advantage of the system, as they usually do.

    There will always be some bludgers, and cartoonists who take the mickey out of them are just doing their job.

    But hungry children need to be fed: they aren’t responsible for their parents’ fecklessness. In my view, the benefits of food in low-decile schools outweigh the costs of a few parents rorting the system.

    • Ha this makes me laugh, you get so angry and the minorities of the minorities who rip off the system and say how true it is. Do you even think about the whites who scam the country for millions? Ever think that might be a white problem which affects ‘all’ New Zealanders??

  15. If you want to live in a free society then you put up with offensive cartoons of this sort

    • Tony

      You can choose to be offended or not. Some people complain about what’s on TV, without apparently realising that there’s an off switch.

      • 15.1.1

        That is a fatuous argument. How do you suggest switching off a cartoon in a paper once having read it?

        If someone were to call you a stinking, fat, white, racist pig with halitosis, how do you choose not to be offended by that?

        • “If someone were to call you a stinking, fat, white, racist pig with halitosis, how do you choose not to be offended by that?”

          Well, Ben, it depends on the context. Billy T James used to say worse than that. I wasn’t offended by him either.

          I get offended when people abuse or bully others, when people use violence to make a point or to get their way. Clearly, Nisbett isn’t doing that.

        • True that!!!!


          Happens all the time, Ben. I just laugh at the poor inarticulate miserable sod and chalk up another Lefty scalp.

      • “You can choose to be offended or not. Some people complain about what’s on TV, without apparently realising that there’s an off switch.”

        By which time you or your children may have seen/heard something that is inappropriate on any number of levels.

        Using that argument, you could have hard core pornography on at any time.

        All you have to do is get to the TV remote to switch it off before little Johnny or Judy sees the first few penis-vaginal thrusts.

        Now repeat every day.

        See? It’s a ridiculous proposition and one that a Libertarian view doesn’t take into account.

        And as Ben said; how do you switch off a cartoon?

        How do you switch of racist attitudes that said cartoon legitamises?

        And should we have to “switch” off?

        Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should. It’s called self-discipline?

  16. Unfortunately we all now know who and what this bloke Nisbet is. The cartoons have moved from local bit rag to national prominence. Why do we give him the oxygen? (It is obvious from the many comments supporting him that his prejudices are alive and well in Godzone.)

  17. Illusory correlation, fundamental error attribution, defensive attribution…too many negative social judgements and biases in relation to people who suffer from poverty, displayed by Al Nisbet, to even name them all.

    I think the cartoons, and that some people think they are a form of humour is a sad reflection on our society.

  18. In this cartoon it is a case of the ‘token white’ which I would suggest was inserted by the artist as a means of deflecting charges of prejudice (it is not even clear from the carton that any of the characters are actually white, but I am told they are). The words are uttered by characters who are clearly meant to be Polynesian and the cartoons can only be interpreted as suggesting that it is Polynesians ripping off the system.

    Actually what offends me more about these cartoons is that once again there is the general implication of the “undeserving poor”. The attitude has changed little since the days when the poor of the parish were classed as indigent and consigned to the local workhouse. The poor are ALWAYS to blame. They smoke, they drink, they are lazy, they watch TV, they breed, and my God they dare to exist.

    It is a pity that the same opprobrium is not heaped on those with money ripping off the system legally with middle class welfare. It is a pity that legal tax avoidance does not attract the same outrage. Unless one happens to have lost money personally there is not a great deal of indignation when the great and the good rip off investors in finance companies and by and large walk free to enjoy a generous life style.

  19. Good cartooning is meant to be controversial, stimulating debate on relevent subjects, Shock tactics in cartooning are quite another thing, far more about the artist than the message.

  20. Does The Press even know it’s Samoan Language Week? Perfect timing to reinforce the South Island’s reputation for ‘brownism’…

  21. 21

    I don’t think it’s particularly racist but it is rather nasty.

  22. I found these cartoons highly offensive. What alarmed me more however, was the nations tolerance and even support of these stereotypes. I was listening to Nisbett defending his cartoons this morning on RNZ and one point that stuck with me was his focus on obesity. Overweight poor hungry people? How can this be? Well Nisbett, we live in a society where Coke is cheaper than water and milk, where snack foods are cheaper than fruit and vege and where minorities are continually stereotyped by insightless ignorant prigs with no educated analysis and too much public influence such as yourself!!

  23. I find these discussions fairly tiresome. The fact is the Left will spray about filthy, money-grabbing business people with gay abandon while characterising all those at the bottom of the heap as deserving. The Right will, as many here have pointed out, characterise the poor as lazy and self-indulgent without having much to say about middle class greed and self-interested use of the tax and welfare systems.

    There is one point of difference though. Criticism from the Right in response to insult pleads its case only in terms of offensiveness. Criticism from the Left (as in this case) brings a whole ideology to bear of which elements of race are a significant part. It relies more on association than offensiveness.

    Put it another way. The case from the Right needs to show gross offensiveness usually at the level of the individual. The case from the Left does not. It has a line of trenches further out which means that depicting a fat Maori, or a lazy beneficiary is by definition considered offensive because the association of one concept with the other deems it so irrespective of context.

    When people choose their descriptions of Finance Company Directors as carefully as they are forced to choose their descriptions of Maori and beneficiaries, we may have made some progress.

    • 23.1

      Nice analysis. I was thinking along much the same lines noting that the Left always interpret a criticism of some of their sacred cows as an immoral attack on the whole herd. Plenty of examples here.

      The other point that amuses me is that the group shown are actually the “good” guys who have been feeding their kids – not those who have already been spending the kids’ breakfast money on their own vices. They won’t be any better off.

  24. Its really unfortunate but these cartoons do represent the narrow opinions of quite a few people. I have read these opinions too many times on herald and facebook comments.
    These opinions are woefully ill informed. Anyone working in the social services like I do know this. Yes there are some who abuse the system at the lower end and hey plenty of others abusing it at the upper end. Funny how we don’t paint all middle age white business men as finance company director rip off artists who pay zero tax.

    This sort of potted opinion is usually left at the pub or lunch room and fair enough but when the media start regurgitating ill thought out opinions like these , or yellow peril etc it loses my respect and hey my respect for the media is already pretty low.

    I guess it begs the question what is the media’s role, to reflect all opinions, attitudes and perceptions regardless ?
    Or to make some attempt at informing us of the issues, the context and the names.

  25. And over on Tim Watkins blog he defends Al Nisbet’s right to publish what he likes but says;
    “The caricature is indolent and the ‘truth’ he’s trying to illuminate just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Worst of all, rather than using his craft to challenge power and lazy assumptions, he’s reinforced them and picked on the powerless and vulnerable, who are often an ethnic minority.

    That makes him, in this case, the cartooning equivalent of the school-yard bully. In short, not his best work.”

  26. I do not care for the cartoons. I agree with most of what Richards Aston writes. The cartoons themselves are not the problem ,its the people that think that this is a majority representation of those on Welfare.

  27. I find them sad and very offensive. I grew up in a solo parent home with six kids. Not easy. We’ve all turned out well though – my little 33 year old brother has just bought a $9mill house north of Sydney. Not bad for a benefit kid. The attitude behind these iamges completely sucks. We should be concentrating on making sure that kids reach their potential – not crucifying the poor wee bastards.

  28. What the cartoonist has done is point the finger at those responsible for hungry children.THE PARENTS. Did you all think they were spending their money on world vision and other good deeds?

    • 28.1

      All hungry children?
      All parents?
      What evidence have you?
      Or do you just “know”?

      • Where did I say ALL? Or do you just know I meant that?


          I didn’t “know”; I was asking.
          If you didn’t mean “all”, then whose responsibility is it that the other children are hungry?


            When children are not being fed then for whatever reason their parents or caregivers are not coping. As well as feeding the children surely we need to investigate why this is happening. we may be filling their tummies at school and then sending them home to all manner of other horrors. That is doing half the job.

    • Good point Rosie. There’s an elephant in the room.

      Of course the parents are to blame, but we’ve just taken their responsibility away. Now they don’t have to worry about feeding their kids because we tax payers will do it!

      Some parents in this country – not all of them non-pakeha – have just had the rest of us tell them what failures they are at bringing up their kids. That’s where the blame and shame lies: if you can’t afford them, don’t have them.

      • 28.2.1

        What evidence have you that “of course the parents are to blame.”?
        A few, I would suggest, are to blame but the majority are struggling because they are not paid a living wage.

        • No imperical evidence, of course, but if a couple give birth to kids they can’t feed, who do YOU consider to be responsible? The state?

          And this “living wage” bunny is a nonsense. How the hell can you legislate for a “living wage”? Who pays? We all will – because the dole queues will quadruple overnight, and because any supplier of goods or services will have to crank up their prices by 15%.

          Tell any company you like that the starting wage for a 16 year old must be $18.40 an hour and they won’t take anyone without experience. It’s bad enough now with the minimum wage shutting kids out of work. OK for Hamilton council – they don’t have to make or sell anything: they can offer Tooth Fairy wages to all and sundry and just slap it on the rates, but it REALLY is time for the lefties to stop thinking like teenagers: that every business owner is stinking rich and can afford to increase his staff costs by 25%.


            Funny how the number of feckless people goes up with unemployment and up as wages go down. Many people had their children when times were good and they could afford them.
            As far as a living wage is concerned, Henry Ford paid his workers over the odds and, surprise, surprise, they could afford to buy his cars. FDR’s New Deal helped drag the USA
            out of the Great Depression.
            On the other hand, austerity isn’t working in the EU.
            Paying a decent wage stimulates the economy and so, employers can afford it.
            But that doesn’t fit with the current Dog Eat Dog, Devil Take the Hindmost ethos.

  29. 29

    The cartoon is sugar-coated and misleading. It has racial overtones but is hardly ‘racist’.

    The parents, responsible for sending the kids to school, hungry, are characterised by a wholesale abdication of responsibility and are negligent. In most cases, the appearances of the homes are typified by being a ‘tip’ on the outside and a ‘pig-sty’ inside, with layers of accumulated grime and filth. The cartoons hardly portray the reality of the situation.

    By providing free breakfasts to the kids, will merely allow the caregivers to shift the goalposts; whereby, they probably will skimp on providing a decent dinner in the evening.

    There is no reason why children should be going hungry. You would think that with all the taxpayer money, iwi have been given, they might take it upon themselves to be a little proactive in providing-for and educating their own. You reckon, they have any desire or motivation to do so? I think, not.

    • What about all the poor Pakeha families, should they starve because you believe it’s just a Maori problem?

  30. In the end these cartoons are but one man’s opinion. Get over them!

  31. These are offensive cartoons. They characterise poor, non-pakeha people in NZ as overfed, conniving, gamblers who are undeserving of help. If I was struggling to feed my kids and Polynesian then I would be angered by them and I would feel misunderstood and demeaned.

    Al Nisbet demonstrates prejudice. To draw them he must either believe that the stereotypes he creates are accurate or at least think that enough people in NZ will share such belief so that his cartoons will be well received.

    These cartoons promote misunderstanding and racism. I cannot think of a single positive thing that they might achieve. They are not funny, they are inaccurate, and they are divisive.

  32. Cheers Richard Aston for your insight, this whole debate has illuminated a plague of WILFUL IGNORANCE on the part of the bullying privileged of New Sealand …
    … does anyone REALLY believe that this cartoon honestly portrays the viewpoint of the poor?

    Let’s ponder the possibility that 50% of the ‘poor’ in our communities may have mental and/or personality disorders; compound that with generations of poverty and/or underprivilege; throw in the lack of a full parcel of life skills to engage with opportunities (if any were offered) …

    Perhaps you descend from the Irish diaspora fleeing starvation at the whim of the English, trying to get a foothold somewhere, anywhere? Perhaps you are of Maori dispossessed of their lands in their own country for generations? Or maybe you are of the Pacific Island peoples enticed here with the promise of work and then socially marginalized for decades…

    Or perhaps you were like me, bullied and ignored in turn at the hands of an unmedicated narcissistic bi-polar mother, although she was comfortably wealthy, I was the child without a raincoat, without shoes that fitted, without lunch, without kindness or compassion from those most able to afford to extend it.

    This Nisbet fellow has sabotaged the issue of caring for children in need of sustenance (for whatever reason) into a self-centred focus on his own ability to engender spite.

    • Best response I have ever read!!

    • 32.2

      Sorry, but how does a cartoon that shows parents happy not to have to bother providing food for their kids get invalidated by your story of your mother who didn’t bother providing food and clothes for you?

      Both deserve to be identified and shamed.

  33. There is a segment of every society who probably accurately see the cards stacked against them due to their upbringing, education, race or other reason and consequently see petty crime and rorting the system as a way to even things up.

    Is it right? Of course not, but its a very human response to life’s challenges, and is often celebrated in books and films – with or without a “just desserts” style ending.

    Are they a legitimate target for mocking and criticism – why not? But there’s a significant difference between the rich and the poor when making jokes or social commentary. There’s fewer laughs in lampooning a pauper for stealing a loaf of bread (or bowl of weetbix) than a miilionaire.

    These cartoons Don’t really hit the mark and seem to be right wing propaganda more than humour, and counterproductive at that due to the furor generated.

    Should they be banned or someone punished for them – no! Sunlight is the best disenfectant, and freedom of speech is too valuable to lose due to a few cartoons of dubious merit.

    • “Are they a legitimate target for mocking and criticism – why not? But there’s a significant difference between the rich and the poor when making jokes or social commentary. There’s fewer laughs in lampooning a pauper for stealing a loaf of bread (or bowl of weetbix) than a miilionaire.”

      You seem to be echoing Tom Scott’s comment that cartoonists are really in the service of the underdog. Scott and your post got me to thinking this week, Steve. Your comment is probably fair enough. Just as in the same way organised protest is usually a (legitimate) tool of the left-wing, there seems something out of kilter when protest (like the march Bran Tamaki organised in Wellington a few years ago) and cartooning are employed in the service of the status quo. Hysterics like Kat need little encouragement to cry like Chicken-Licken that forces of jack-booted fascism are stalking our fair free land, I’m loathe to give her any oxygen!

      However, who really is “poor”/marginalised is a matter of perception and personal politics. For example, I remember one Tom Scott cartoon (or it may have been Murray Ball – either way it doesn’t matter as their brief in the service of the weak is the same), who once drew a perceptive (IMHO) cartoon of a group of obviously well-heeled Maori kaumatua, encumbered with faux over-sized bone pendants and tiki before entering a Government minister’s office for Treaty of Waitangi claim negotiations, coaching one another with the words, “Now remember, when we come to the part where we claim the radio waves are a customary right and taonga, remember to keep a straight face”.

      I think the legitimate targets of caricature are the pompous, the less-than-completely-honest, and the deliberately/incorrigibly foolish of every political, socio-economic and ethnic hue, whose actions, causes and interests impact public life.

      Al Nisbet may have found a legitimate target. I note that some of those demanding free breakfasts for kids in schools are now utterly contemptuous of the Government’s response, and equally contemptuous of ANY attempt to hold to account those parents and care-givers whose lack of personal responsibility MAY be the primary cause of their children’s hunger.

      Perhaps if Al Nisbet had directed his humour at the likes of the relatively powerful and pompous Hone Harawira, Sue Bradford, and John Minto, or the sanctimonious Russell Norman and Metiria Turei (and I freely acknowledge my own bias in the matter!), then he would have fulfilled the cartoonists essential brief at which he was a miserable failure: humour.

  34. “dominate the media by controlling the message through credible right wing blogs”

    The words of Mr Simon Lusk, the National party’s very own version of Joseph Goebbels. The ‘message’ includes, of course, the use of all media, even cartoons.

    • “the National party’s very own version of Joseph Goebbels”.

      Ahhh, I wondered when someone would even things up with an equally ridiculous caricature, and right on cue, you never fail to disappoint, Kat. And just like the witless, humourless, and unimaginative Al Nisbet, you had to resort to Godwin’s law to vent your prejudices, and score your cheap political points.

      Mind you, it must be hard to juxtapose a comparison of the Nazis that with the subtle anti-Semitism you sail perilously close to when you openly state Key is nothing but a self-interested banker on the make.

  35. A cartoon should demonstrate a serious point with humour and irony. The test of all jokes is do people laugh?

    In this case there ain’t too many laffing. On one hand there are kids that need feeding, on the other the knowledge that the program will be an open ended expense that will be rorted by some. I got free milk at school and it went down well with the marmite sandwiches my mother made for lunch. Regretably I was schooled too late for the free apple scheme; I would have been into them like a big dog even though we had fruit trees at home – [Every family in our state house neigbourhood had a garden as most parents were raised in the depression] On odd occasions my father brought a Tatts or an Art Union ticket.So, fed adequately at home,with parents that gambled,technically I have to admit I was on the rort side of the equation when I won my morning milk drinking races.

    Nisbett has just sheeted the potential problems home to the brown sector of NZ. In this he has been unwise and to quote Lange “kicked a turd on a hot day”
    He needs your help Brian.
    The quality of mercy is not train’d.

  36. I hadn’t realised how ‘touchy’ some people are. A cartoon is something you can take offence at or ignore. It seems fairly obvious that some people read a huge amount into them in all sorts of ways. Usually there is some element of truth in them-depending on how you look at things. It certainly demonstrates just how politically correct some peope have become. I find it difficult to believe that they don’t spend all of every day being offended by the things around them. Must be a very frustrating sort of existance.
    I grew up in the 1940s and 1950’s when wages were low and we were definately working class. We never went hungry as I believe my parents had reasonably good priorities. People knew how to cook and we always had breakfast and lunch. Almost 40 years in education taught me that there are people biologically capable of being parents but who are totally unsuited to the task-I suspect this has not changed much over the last 40 years, just become rather more obvious.

  37. A few furrowed brows and mutterings of consternation and disapproval. But no real outrage; not even of the faux variety. Why? Too many victims of Maori crime, here, to get genuinely worked-up over a try-to-be-funny cartoonist.

  38. Racist?
    Personally, I find the cartoons to be ‘classist’ – unwittingly exhibiting the banal evil of greedy apes squabbling over resources, the resentful tossing of a few crumbs outside the firelight to the openly despised hungry beyond the shadows … if a man has to give some of his resources to people below him, then he will be less.
    I see that.

  39. maybe if the prick could draw..

    • Sorry Gerard – I think they’re excellent caricatures. If he could draw only as well as I, there wouldn’t be a fuss because you wouldn’t know if the subject was humans or trees.

  40. If all the characters in the cartoons were obviously white, there wouldn’t be a sound from the complainers.
    It seems brown people are not allowed to be satarised.

  41. Greggypoo Could it be because the power and privilege is in the hands of the whites? Could it also be that when whites stereotype browns, it helps keep the status quo and pompus attitudes like yours to continue? Hmmm just goes to show what ignorance and racism and throw out!!

    • In these enlightened times, show me a Maori cartoonist? It’s exactly what the press could do with! We’d have no end of fun with one of each on the same paper!

  42. Mellypoo, could it not alternatively be that the dialectic analysis of ruling hegemony and marginalised and oppressed ain’t necessarily so in every case?

    Or does failing do drink the Kool-Aid of your ideology also qualify as ignorance?

    So how about you simply tell us – are brown (and white, and yellow, and Muslim, and Christian, and conservative, and liberal, and gay, and straight) people allowed to be satirised?

    • Kimbo, your obnoxious enough when sober, do yourself a favour and refrain from drinking and posting.

      • Am as sober as a judge, Kat.

        Simply asking questions, which for some reason causes your head to spin, accompanied by frothing at the mouth and sundry discourteous pyrotechnics. I wasn’t the one who introduced idelogically loaded-terminology such as “power and privilege”,and “status quo” into the discussion. Perhaps it was the garlic that was smaking your eyes to water that caused you and Metrognome to ignore the thread of the conversation that Melly introduced.

        Now, having introduced a snide angle into the discussion with your post at June 1st, 2013 at 10:14, as per past form I’m expecting the moderator to once again belatedly ride to your rescue…

      • That’s enough, Kat – and Kimbo. This is a site for vigorous argument, not petty personal attacks.

        • Fair enough JC, I should have said; “you’re comments are obnoxious” in my post 42.1. Thats vigorously playing the ball, not the man. Would you not agree?

    • Enough of the Jonestown refreshment drink, Kimbo. The stocks have been depleted for quite some time.

      Kat, it’s: you’re; not your.

  43. I was interested in The Press’ editor asserting that she is not a censor, she is an editor – as if those two roles were mutually exclusive, and so absolved her from any responsibility for her cartoonist’s offerings.

    I’d be very surprised if they were mutually exclusive in the daily work of the media. Isn’t she making choices about what appears – and what doesn’t – in her paper every day? Freedom of the press is always tempered by other considerations, both commercial and ideological, surely?

    Just spitballing here, but it’s a perennial and interesting tension…

  44. Bit of trivia: 73% of a widely-conducted poll didn’t think the cartoons were racist.

    I found the cartoons were stupid — they all came across as beaming zonked zombies.

  45. I have followed this debate with fascination. Obviously a nerve has been touched. It seems to me however that two fallacies are at work. The first is that somehow parents have been absolved from feeding their children. This is not so. Milk and toasted wheat biscuits (maybe some fruit) provided to a minority of children from low income families through schools, a number of which are already providing food when kids arrive at school, is hardly a revolution in the eating habits of the nation and the ‘nanny state’ rampant. A number of OECD countries provide a full midday meal to all junior school pupils as a matter of course and have done for decades without the societies in question morally breaking down. Not even Margaret Thatcher saw fit to change such a regime in Britain

    Secondly, what is being provided is not a ‘breakfast’ in the real sense of that word. There is ample research to sugget that toasted wheat biscuits have little nutritional value although milk does.

    Instead what we have is what Bil English in castigating Labour and the Greens likes to refer to as ‘a stunt’. No doubt the regular National focus groups are identyifying unease among middle class voters at child poverty in New Zealand and so some sort of gesture is being made but John Key was careful to point out that he was not extending the role of the state in doing so. He was instead doing the least he could do.

    • 45.1

      No, Tony. Your previous comment was on the ball but this isn’t. I grew up on weetbix and milk as did most of my generation and it is a perfectly adequate and healthy breakfast.

      • 45.1.1

        There’s no doubt that toasted and malted wheat biscuits create a sense of being fed but it has long been my understanding that the nutritional value of Weetbix, Kellogs Corn Flakes etc is nil. They also contain masses of sugar and salt. However, I concede that I don’t know for sure and I may be quoting an urban myth. Perhaps a nutritionist can put me right one way or the other?


          No, Weetbix is low in sugar unlike the Kellogs products so we used to add our own to taste. According to Sanitarium it contains vitamins as well as fibre and carbohydrates. Add the milk and it is a good, healthy breakfast for kids.

  46. 46

    I began working in low-decile areas in the late 1960s. Back then and during the 1970s, folks on a low income or benefit were as likely as not to be pakeha. Now, the statistics suggest that such people are much more likely than not to be Maori or Pacific.

    Then, as now, some people rorted the system, and could be characterised as “bludgers”. Back then, bludgers were a small proportion of the whole beneficiary population; without doubt the same will be true today. Statistically, they’re the outliers, yet welfare policy with regard to benefit levels is now predicated on such outliers,rather than on the middle ground, as would be the case with policy development in other areas.

    The economic reforms of the 1980s and 90s, and the benefit cuts of the early 1990s, did major damage to the lowest-income sector of society, from which it has never recovered. This is where we end up as a result of such reforms and policy changes: children going to school hungry.

    The fact that poverty now disproportionately affects Maori and Pacific people means that when other people criticise those who do rort the system, they’re accused of racism. This of course tends to shut down debate: nobody likes being thought of in those terms.

    Yet bludging and incompetent parenting is a reality, even if it’s only a small part of the whole, and such people need to be called on their behaviour. Which is where the likes of Nisbet come in. He’s doing his job. And next week, that job may well involve lampooning rich white people who perpetrate financial scams of various sorts on the unwary. Don’t conflate cartoon critique of this sort with racism.

  47. ‘Serious’ is our other favourite word which is why Seven Sharp does not and cannot qualify in our philosophy as a current affairs programme. Those people are having far too much fun. Giggling and current affairs are incompatible.