Waatea News Column: ODT Cartoon outrage misplaced


We should collectively be righteously appalled at the tone deaf ODT cartoon that made light of the terrible measles epidemic that has killed over 50 children in Samoa. It was an ugly ‘joke’ that shouted white privilege, but calls to boycott the ODT, sack the cartoonist and the enormous social media wave of fury seem to me to be grotesquely misplaced.

I don’t sense in Tremain’s cartoon the maliciousness in Al Nisbet’s infamous cartoons and in a liberal progressive democracy, even things we don’t like published or said has a right to be published and said, while we can be angered by this thoughtlessness, the epidemic sweeping Samoa demands incandescent rage to be directed at the NZ health officials who turned a blind eye to the falling vaccination rates in NZ and ignored warnings we were losing herd immunisation.

It is these NZ Health Bureaucrats who assumed free vaccinations at Drs would be enough to help impoverished families find the time and resource to travel to the dr when the reality instead showed free vaccinations at a Drs were meaningless if impoverished families didn’t have the money to get to the Drs.

Instead of actively entering Communities to expand the vaccination drive, NZ Health Bureaucrats shrugged and allowed a public health crisis mutate out of control and easily jump to a country like Samoa.

When you consider our history with Samoa and our role in allowing influenza plague ships to wipe out 30% of the Samoan population at the end of World War 1, we have a sacred obligation to Samoa and the pitiful response to date should be as shameful as the NZ Health Bureaucrats initial incompetence that led to the measles epidemic getting out of hand in the first place.

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If you want to be outraged over the measles outbreak in Samoa vent it at a NZ health system that was warned about our failing herd immunity & a Government not prepared to immunise everyone fast enough. Lynching a cartoonist for an ill judged joke is low hanging fruit.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. The cartoon was in poor taste, but that is freedom of expression and the person should not be fired.

    It’s more about the overseas MSM gunning for them, because The Otago Daily Times is New Zealand’s oldest surviving daily newspaper that is still NZ owned and prints NZ content.


    Funny the race relations is commenting on it, https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/other/embarrassed-race-relations-cmmr-blasts-appalling-distasteful-samoan-measles-cartoon/ar-BBXHlqw and the MSM seem to be going crazy printing multiple articles about ODT, I’m sure they welcome yet another NZ newspaper’s decline so they can become the Chinese Herald or Private equity from OZ or Hong Kong.

    Weirdly someone who actually dies in NZ, like the Yu Xingming, doesn’t get much press and no interest from race relations either, because it’s a story that those in power don’t want told, aka highlighting the reality of the deregulated construction and visa permits operating here, aka cash economy, no employment contracts, workers with little to zero English speaking so can’t understand what is going on which is dangerous, especially with dangerous working conditions, NZ visas being sold for big $$$ in China and overseas based on lies, nobody interested or responsible for the death of a worker, workers are working on McMansions for profiteers not affordable housing. https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/117551892/death-of-a-migrant-under-the-table-workers-building-aucklands-multimillion-dollar-homes

    But hey let the woke get excited about a poor taste cartoon, not actually he death of someone in this country and reporting on it, to prevent more deaths and exploitation happening here.

    People in Samoa are reacting to nurses who fatally killed infants by incorrectly administering the MMR vaccine, and so it is understandable why those in Samoa have little trust in the vaccine, had poor vaccination rates going forward and now have a crisis, rightly or wrongly.

    • SaveNZ: “The cartoon was in poor taste, but that is freedom of expression and the person should not be fired.”

      Exactly. In any event, taste is subjective. I didn’t think it in poor taste: the cartoonist made no reference at all to dead people, babies or otherwise. I saw it as a pointed jab (so to speak) at the epidemic itself.

      I’m old enough to remember the awful epidemics of such diseases; I’m guessing that Tremain may be of a similar age. Measles is a terrible disease: it kills people at worst, can leave them disabled. It isn’t in any way like rubella. As the unfortunates both here and in Samoa have found out.

      “It’s more about the overseas MSM gunning for them, because The Otago Daily Times is New Zealand’s oldest surviving daily newspaper that is still NZ owned and prints NZ content.”

      I’m not aware that overseas msm has the ODT in its sights, but I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised at it. More power to the ODT: long may it survive!

      “….it is understandable why those in Samoa have little trust in the vaccine…”

      Ignorance and complacency, with a good dollop of anti-vaccination misinformation thrown in, from what I’ve heard and read.

      As I’ve said, I’m old enough to remember what measles was like. I have no patience with the ignorant and the complacent putting at risk the lives of their children – who don’t get a say in any of their parents’ decisions – and of other children. Or of the rest of us. Such people need to do the right thing, both by their and others’ children, and by the rest of us. And everyone needs to remember that they don’t own their children.

  2. There will be a time to assign blame when it is all analysed later. For now the people need help to care for the sick.

  3. What do you expect the south island is full of racist people and some of them are very set in there ways they are sick people who need a good boot up the backside and to be put in there place but instead we have sick people in our country like mike hoskings who pander to them and his sick ideas feed the racists. We are already a divided country with many haves and many more have nots thanks to national and their policies that have excerbated poverty while helping the rich to get richer

  4. It seems like the people of Samoa and their precious children are expendable.

    This never would have happened if the well being of people was put before profit and bottom lines as is often the case in western health services these days.

    The other tragedy is that the sad death of the infants that received the fatal vaccine spread fear amongst the population that the vaccine was not safe and relied on other treatments that were never going too work.

    If the O.D.T and its editor had one ounce of human decency they would have known that this was something that does not require a cartoon too encourage humor at the expense of the Samoan peoples grief and fear.

  5. Sure he has the right to be published, but he also has the right to be punished. If some people decide to boycott or send it viral that is their right, that is true democracy. Al Nisbet was the warning that Tremain ignored. If the low hanging fruit is safe then where does justice begin.

    • The Informer: “Al Nisbet was the warning that Tremain ignored.”

      Nope. Tremain and Nisbet are and were both exercising their freedom of speech. It entails nothing about refraining from offending people; in fact, that’s the whole point about freedom of speech. It’s defined as the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint. So: nothing about not offending people, or keeping cartoons in good taste.

      In my view, the editor of the ODT behaved in a pusillanimous fashion, allowing himself to be bullied by strident protesters into apologising for his cartoonist exercising his democratic rights, then throwing said cartoonist under the bus. Clearly – and unsurprisingly – Tremain has taken the same view:


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