If you don’t think the cartoons are racist – you are part of the problem


I can’t believe the amount of clowns who’ve tried arguing with me over the last 24hours that the cartoons by Al Nisbet aren’t racist. Here’s a test – If you don’t think it’s racist, you are part of the problem.

End of story.

To desperately defend these cartoons as not racist by trawling through every feature of the cartoons is beneath contempt. The characteristics Nisbet has used with the shading, with the lips, with the backwards baseball cap, all are dog whistles for NZs redneck masses and listening to their squeals of ‘it’s not racist’ remind all intelligent residents that our best and brightest fled these anti-intellectual shores many moons ago.

So if these two cartoons aren’t racist…


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…then what about this one from Al dated from 2001…


…not only are these cartoons racist, they are hateful towards the weakest members of society. Satire pokes fun at those with power, it doesn’t attack the most vulnerable. Politicians should always be offended, Police should always be offended and the rich should always be offended, but the weak and most vulnerable? Attacking them is nothing better than bullying.

Why must the weak and poor suffer further from a global economic crisis they had no hand in making? How many of the 270 000 children in poverty were on the phone to their Wall st stockbroker in 2007 buying lite crude in Euros and speculating on the Goldman Sachs derivatives market?

None. Yet they are open to be vilified and mocked for daring to ask for more in the form of a couple of shitty weet-bix and milk.

We can’t afford $100m per year to feed the poorest children, but we do have $400m to give away each year in tax cuts to the wealthiest.

Susan Devoy says the cartoons aren’t racist – which shows what an appalling choice in Race Relations Commissioner she actually is – how shameful. She is like a firefighter who doesn’t bother putting out any actual fires. She’s had numerous issues under her short time as Race Relations Commissioner where her narrow views on race have actually defeated the point of having a Race Relations Commissioner in the first place.

Which is of course the reason Devoy was appointed.

Here she is grinning like an idiot…


The Press Council have been even more racist than the cartoons. They have argued that a cartoonist has the right to offend and they are standing by the cartoonist. Funny thing though is that in 2003, Malcolm Evans offended Israel with this cartoon…

Malcolm Evans' cartoon that framed Israel's oppression in the Palestinian territories had him sacked from the NZ Herald.
Malcolm Evans’ cartoon that framed Israel’s oppression in the Palestinian territories had him sacked from the NZ Herald.

..and the Press Council supported the NZ Herald’s decision to sack him AND they defended the Herald’s right not to print letters criticizing the Herald’s decision.

So if a cartoon offends Maori or Pacific Islander, then it’s freedom of speech. If the cartoon offends Israel it’s a sacking and suppression of criticism of that sacking.


The list of idiotic crap I’ve heard from people over the last 24 hours trying to defend these cartoons are an example of how our poorly funded public broadcasting services have failed NZers.

“It’s not racist if it’s true” really means “I’m racist and need some bullshit mass accepted stereotype to back up my bigotry”.

Screaming at poor people that they must feed their kids when the Ministry is actively finding ways to disqualify anyone from the benefit is the sort of satire reserved for The Civilian, but to watch this mockery of the poorest in society so cheerfully embraced by the rest of NZ reminds us all that ignorance and fear always stalk these shaky isles.

“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well housed, well warmed and well fed.”
Herman Melville


    • I think it’s pretty terrible to defame someone by posting a photoshopped photo to try and fool people into thinking she is happy about this.
      All I learned from this article is it’s okay to bully the rich kids =\ “the rich should always be offended, but the weak and most vulnerable? Attacking them is nothing better than bullying.”

      • It’s not ok to bully kids, rich or otherwise, but the fact that you bring this up is a good opportunity to examine what bullying is. It’s an act carried out by the bigger, stronger, or more powerful against weaker groups or individuals. We cannot bully the rich and powerful, by definition. We can, and should, resist their bullying.

        I assume you also believe the Round Table suffers terribly from union bullies, and pakeha suffer from Maori racism. Aw, poor things.

      • But… Rachel, isn’t that the same freedom of speech that Nisbet and his supporters are screaming about?!

        If it’s ok for Nisbet to mis-represent an entire sector of our society with racist cartoons, why can’t others be mis-represented?

        Sorry, I’m just to get my head around the “rules” here, because from where I’m sitting, they seem mightily inconsistent…

  1. Best blog i’ve read in a while, well done Bomber. You make all the important points in clear and concise ways. Shame the 75% on the Stuff Press website haven’t read it

    • Episode 3 from the 11th to the 17th minute was, but the rest was acceptable. I suggest you come down to Grey Lynn Park and apologise for laughing, now that I’ve answered your question.

    • i find Brotown incredibly offensive, the main maori character sounds uneducated and hory, he lives in a car outside the front of his house, his mother is depicted as an uncaring alcoholic who has countless men hanging around all of which Jeff calls dad because im assuming he doesn’t know who his father is. Its disgusting, racist and im highly offended its passed off as comedy and im considered too sensitive or politically correct if i speak my views on this cartoon which to be completely honest isn’t that funny at all. We are poking fun at poor neglected children, how is this funny??

      • I think that bro town has its place. I mean, the audience it was made for could recognise the stereotypes played out. So we’re laughing at ourselves in a way. The comic wasn’t made for struggling families. So they don’t get to appreciate any humour others might receive from the comic. Which comes at their expense. Specifically from those not struggling.

      • I’m Maori and don’t find Brotown racist I find it funny. Funny because for some this is their way of life not all just some. This country has become too PC that we can no longer laugh at ourselves and the stereotypes without someone telling us that it’s racist. Come on people do we really want our kids growing up in a boring world?

  2. I think the cartoons are good. They show exactly the issue I have with National’s policy. Feeding the kids without anything to resolve the cause of these problems. If parents are neglecting their children then it can only be through either a lack of money or irresponsibility. There is nothing in National’s policy to find out what is the cause behind each child’s hunger. Is it poverty, is it a lack of responsibility? It’s different in each case. Buti f we had a means of monitoring which children are coming in hungry each morning we could begin to solve the issue.

    It’s good to feed the kids, but the parents need to be involved too. Why aren’t they feeding their kids? Sure, some a struggling economically, but $5 a week for each kid’s breakfast? Come on. The cartoons suggests what a reason is behind a lot of the children not being fed – irresponsible parents who can afford to gamble, drink and smoke but can’t get out of bed to give their kids breakfast. And yup, guess which groups are over-represented in child poverty, gambling addiction, alcohol abuse, domestic abuse and smoking? Maori and Pacific Islanders.

    It’s interesting that Peter Dunne came out yesterday and said Maori had to face some “tough realities” about Maori suicide and that all of these factors I just mentioned were a huge cause of the embarrassingly high number of us Maori who are killing themselves. No big cries about racism there.

    • i think there are more mature ways with addressing the issues with Maori and Pacific island communities, rather than using our hungry kids to attack ‘useless parents’ we should be attacking the source. I mean pokie machines are popping up like herpes within low income communities yet very few people have addressed this issue. There is practically a liquor store next to every dairy within low income communities.
      In terms of suicide rates that falls within the Whanau to take care of. If you have a family who cant communicate with each other than you have serious issues that need to be resolved.
      But what im trying to say is we shouldn’t be shaming hungry children to make a point about their parents, its not the kids fault if they have useless parents or if they have hard working parents who may have run out of food before their next pay day. And I’m a little sad knowing you are Maori and have no problem with this blatant racism against your own culture.

    • Look. You’re wrong, okay? Trust me.

      The pictures create more harm then good. Why? Because of what you’ve just said. I mean, you’re example of a poor family is pretty grim. And petty. That’s the same assumption everyone else makes. And that is projected onto all struggling families by those who have the fortune to not experience hardship like that.

      Yeah, sure, there are SOME struggling economically, but….generalisations, etc.

      You’re opinion contributes nothing useful, except to reinforce negative stereotyping.

    • But we *do* know which kids are coming in hungry each morning. The schools have been telling us for quite some time. It’s lack of money.

      You say $5 a week isn’t much, but that’s $5 a week extra debt. $260 extra debt a year, plus interest. Yes, debt, because poor families have to borrow money to live. We know this.

      And even if we didn’t, Nisbet’s cartoons still don’t show what you say they do. They don’t say “hey, do we actually know what the cause of these kids’ hunger is?” They say, “hey, we DO know what the cause of these kids’ hunger is, and it’s bad Maori and Pasifika parents spending all their money on smokes, booze and pokies” – to which you have added “too lazy to get out of bed” and “domestic abuse”, because apparently being able to afford groceries has less to do with what’s (not) in your bank account and everything to do with laziness and violence.

      They are reinforcing widespread negative racial stereotypes. You are reinforcing widespread negative racial stereotypes. That is not “good”, that is the opposite of good. That is bad.

    • Steve is perfectly right…it simply blows my mind how the others can try and argue against his points.

      Having lived in the bad blocks of Papakura, I’m intimately familiar with the culture where much of these problems stem. I suspect the majority of these bleeding heart liberals who knock his contribution were raised in middle class white suburbia and have not a shred of an idea of the realities of these communities. Why can some Maori and Pasifika make ends meet on the benefit, while others fail dismally? Have any of them ever seen just how much of this money gets wasted through poor decision making?

      You can’t expect to feed the kids with your head in the sand then viola everything will magically transform. It’s a loss of mana and a lack of education which is the problem here. Seems people are divided; some content on simply pointing out the problems, and the others content on treating symptoms of the problems. Why does no one seem to advocate actually trying to fix the cause of the problems?

    • @ Steve,

      Why aren’t they feeding their kids? Sure, some a struggling economically, but $5 a week for each kid’s breakfast?

      $5 or $50 – it’s the same if you haven’t got it.

      Take rent out; power out; fuel for car out; debt to repay; school fees… and other bills as they magically appear in your letter box. Whatever is left over goes on to food, clothing, prescriptions.

      Since National increased prescription charges from $3 to $5, fewer people are picking up their prescriptions. It doesn’t matter if it’s “only $5” – if you’ve just bought groceries and your account is empty – that $5 might as well be $5 million.

      Our local chemist told us that more prescriptions are not being collected as some households just can’t afford it.

      Once your account is emptied, that’s it. Finito.

      By the way. Next time you’re at the check-out at Pak N Save, have a look at the “impulse shelves” beside you and at the check-out operators desk. Notice the goods that have been placed on shelves or handed to the checkout operator?

      Do you know why they are there?

      Because someone on a restricted budget has gone a few bucks over their limit, or, their eftpos card is over-the-limit, and they have to put something back.

      That’s poverty.

      And maybe it’s only $5.

  3. Why haven’t you Or Mana Posted the whole Quote from Devoy? She Obviously states that it is Racist without the simpleness of the word.

    “This is not particularly clever and many will find it hurtful and offensive. The worst aspect, in my opinion, is that it stigmatises efforts to address the situation that sees too many of our children living in poverty,”.

    “Beyond that, it is glaringly obvious that the cartoon portrays Maori or Pacific as the butt of its attempted humour. Using such negative stereotypes in this way is insulting and derogatory in the extreme.”

    • Yesterday there was a radio piece on Facebook censorship. The pages they were censoring were *really* offensive, e.g images of women being beaten up for fun, sick jokes about beating up you wife or girlfriend.

      If we find everything offensive, then to me it seems to dilute what is actually offensive

      Personally, these cartoons are on the edge; hardly in that Facebook league though.

  4. To me the root of the problem is that kiwis don’t want to believe that there is poverty in God’s own country and if there is its the poor people who are to blame.

  5. This woolly headed political correctness is part of the problem and , in the UK for instance , has led to laws banning public figures speaking out against islam ! Absolute dick!!

    • So protecting the underprivileged from the attempt at humour made by a seemingly responsible body is bad? Are we protecting freedom of expression or freedom to oppress?

  6. Not trying to argue about it (not at the moment, anyway), but can you please provide a source for this? I would be interested to know if this is accurate, and if it is, I’ll have something else to be appalled at.

    “We can’t afford $100m per year to feed the poorest children, but we do have $400m to give away each year in tax cuts to the wealthiest. “

  7. Here’s a test:

    >If you don’t think it’s racist, you are part of the problem.

    Rather all-or-nothing bigoted intolerance, I’d say. Not to mention immature.

  8. I know ! Lets kick the banks , money lenders , insurance company’s , lawyers , accountants and foreign owned corporations out of NZ and see if that removes poverty and feeds kids ? Lets close our borders to all but funky , clever , creative , romantic , beautiful people . Lets let in pot smokers and deport alcoholics ? Who owns a good sized rocket ? Lets send all those suit wearing creeps to the moon . The dark side too . We don’t want them to ruin a moon lit stroll . I say pelt all grey German cars with excrement . If not your own , then try cow , sheep or pig dung . I’m sure they’d enjoy taking part . For those of you with decent arm muscles , why throw a whole cow ! Kiwis need to learn to say ‘ Fuck Off ‘ more and ‘ Aww , poor me ‘ less .

    • As a Kiwi, I’m quite happy to take your advice and say “Fuck Off” to Al Nisbet and anyone who thinks his racist bullshit is acceptable.

      That’s what you meant, right?

  9. As a Maori I can understand the response from most of your readers, I have through out my life recieved alot of what I thought were “racist” comments from people, these people varied from “school teachers” to “work colleagues” and their remarks cut deep. To hear and see these comments from people, who are in a psoition of public privilige, knots my stomach. It`s an indicatior that there are still people out there who stereotype people using archaic opinions.
    Growing up my parents instilled into my siblings and myself, that “Racist” comments will not be tolerated in the family home. I feel angry that after all my parents hard work raising my brothers, sisters and I to go out into the world with open minds that we still see this “crap” I come from a hard working family where my parents worked hard long hours to insure we had all the opportunities that befitted a New Zealander. I am now a medical professional (which is only a title) and I have my parents to thank, no one else.
    Here is a stereotype from me, “Pakeha`s, living in the South Island have to be one of the most bigoted, arrogant bunch of WANKERS to grace this beautiful country of ours”, fortunately this is not true as I have some friends (pakeha`s) living in the South Island, it seems that you get the small group from very Race who have the habit of saying, truly stupid things.

  10. Freedom of Speech is important to every other freedom. You really have a problem with someone’s opinion or thoughts or cartoons? What else do you have a problem with. Opression? lol

  11. I work in a contact centre. Today I answered my first phone call and tried to help a woman from the South Island with her query. When she exploded at me for some minor detail she asked me if I was from overseas, I said I am from NZ. She said I sound like a Maori. (???) I have a Masters Degree and I am not Maori. I am half European, half Samoan and my father was English. This woman offended me firstly because of what she said, secondly because she couldn’t see me, thirdly because she continued talking over me as if she had said nothing wrong and expected me to address her with respect. (I did – it’s my job but perhaps I should have given her an earful). I have experienced racism since I was born in NZ, and this just gave me a flash back to my childhood. This made me feel like I was in some bloody cotton field being screamed at by a friggin master. Yes ……… the cartoons are Racist!!!!

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