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The Nisbet cartoons

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, May 31st, 2013 - 133 comments
Categories: cartoons, Media, newspapers, racism - Tags: , ,

The Nisbet cartoons (in the Marlborough Express and The Press) caused a lot of fuss yesterday. For the record, here they are:

290513 The Marlborough Express Al Nisbet cartoon

Oh my aching sides.

Race relations commissioner Susan Devoy said:

Ms Devoy said the Marlborough Express cartoon was offensive and appalling.

“It continues to stereotype certain populations and it continues to stigmatise people who live in poverty, particularly children,” she said.

The cartoons were stereotyping Polynesians as spending their money on cigarettes and gambling. “That is wrong … Some parents living in poverty do their very, very, very best to feed their children, and probably don’t even rely on food in schools and other things,” Ms Devoy said.

The cartoons did not reach the level of racism within the commission’s inquiries and complaints process. The threshold under the law was “very high” and was about inciting racial disharmony. “Perhaps it is not right that the threshold is that high” but that was a matter for the Government, she said.

The Human Rights Commission could still address the issue, and she encouraged people to complain to the commission, the editors of the newspapers and the Press Council. Ms Devoy said the editors should apologise.

In the same article cartoonist Al Nisbet said:

Nisbet said he was not racist, and the cartoons were not intended to be so. Rather, it was directed at anyone who complained about poverty and “blow their money on booze, fags and pokies”.

“They [complainers] always point at the dark figures; they never look at the white ones,” he said.

There might arguably be some “white” figures in the first cartoon, but not in the second – so they are pretty hard to “look at”.

Some useful contact details:

Human Rights Commission (probably “Office of Human Rights Proceedings”)
The contact for the Race Relations Commission leads to the same page as the above
The Marlborough Express
The Press
The Press Council

133 comments on “The Nisbet cartoons ”

  1. gobsmacked 1

    In case anybody wants to relitigate the “what he really meant” argument, you can listen to interviews with the cartoonist on the ‘Radio NZ’ and ‘Radio Live’ websites. Both broadcast around the same time (5.15 pm yesterday).

    In these interviews Nisbet maks it clear that his political views are somewhere to the right of John Banks, and – when pressed – admits that the cartoons reflect this. So let’s not pretend he was ‘misunderstood’.

  2. AsleepWhileWalking 2

    My opinion of these cartoons is that they are racist as they encourage a lack of compassion towards children particularly of “brown” families and reflects the Al Nisbet’s inner resentment that the government has decided to support brown children.

    He’s probably a National Front member too.

  3. Chrissy 3

    I think if I heard correctly he might one day do a cartoon? about “THOSE PEOPLE” and other times might do one on the govt or some such thing.I found the use of the term “those people” very telling.Maybe he’s good friends with paula bennett(herself very large and I bet she likes a drink or two,on the back of the taxpayers who pay her bloated salary) who under the thumb of littlekey has managed to perpetuate the myth that EVERY person on a benefit is bludging,rorting the system and generally living the life of Reilly while all the real workers work their butts off on a pittance so that their taxes can go to support THESE PEOPLE.The only truth we are ever likely to get comes through the media,and the only truth? we get there is what is fed to them by nats for repeating.Not reporting.

    • Roy 3.1

      It is interesting to reflect that he probably considers himself to be a ‘real worker’ and what he does to be ‘work’.

  4. King Kong 4

    I have done my bit.

    Dear Editor,

    The cartoon printed yesterday has given me this opportunity to write to you and prove just what a great person I am.

    I love gays, blacks and even the poor and by showing my indignation to this cartoon I get to prove two of these as facts.

    The outrageous thing is the cartoon attempts to potray all polynesian and Maori as criminals and child abusers.

    This is patently nonsense as this group only makes up 70% of the prison population and also a measly 70% of the child abuse statistics.

    Yours sincerely

    King Kong

  5. Adrian 5

    Would the editors have exercised their discretion and not published if the cartoons had been along the lines of the popular Nazi “Vermin of Europe” ones and portrayed oh say.. a prominent Jewish person with a hooked nose a yamulkah and surrounded by cash and Mighty River Power certificates? I would hope so and for exactly the same reason that these should not have been published.

  6. Tigger 6

    Note the older people in the first cartoon also. Are the elderly also part of his ‘those’?

    And see how he refers to free ‘meals’ and ‘food’, both subtly exaggerating what’s actually provided.

    His real problem though is that he’s not funny or clever.

    • Roy 6.1

      He’s not even a particularly good cartoonist.

      • kiwicommie 6.1.1

        They aren’t funny at all, he has a right to draw racist or offensive cartoons i.e. free speech, doesn’t mean we should applaud them, or accept them. Nisbet is no better than Geert Wilders, who spreads bigotry in the Netherlands.

    • weka 6.2

      I noticed the thin elderly white people too, off to the side and at the back. Plus the kids all appear to be white. Undertones of the deserving poor?

  7. Overt racism like nisbet’s does a service for society in that it brings out the closet racists who feeling emboldened add their views to his. This is inciting racial disharmony and that is why devoy’s claims of it not meeting the threshold are incorrect imo. At the very least she should investigate whether it does meet the threshold and as she has only been in her role for a very short time and this is the first time she has made public utterances on any matter relating to her role it seems to me that investigating is the minimum requirement.

  8. TheContrarian 8

    I note Farrar hasn’t touched this. While I don’t believe Farrar to be racist I think he is wary of the reaction of his regulars.

    • Pascal's bookie 8.1

      Sometimes wary. But yeah, he knows his zoo. If the debate was about offensive towards Muslim cartoons he’d be all over it with ten word post that gets 200+ comments

      • TheContrarian 8.1.1

        Yeah I find the racism from some his commentators to be disturbing because I can’t get my head around the fact there are people who think like that in NZ.

        • expatriot

          The scariest thing so-far revealed in that Farrar comment section is the link to John Stringer’s blog where he mentions that he’s a high school teacher. I was a resident of Christchurch Central when he ran against Tim Barnett and his homophobic, dog-whistling campaign of being a ‘family man with family values’ pushed me into volunteering for Barnett’s campaign. I hope the children exposed to his fundamentalist religious beliefs and medieval attitude towards homosexuality have other teachers with more enlightened views to balance things out.

    • Rhinocrates 8.2

      It’s often said that for evil to triumph, all it needs is good people to do nothing. The Penguin isn’t even a good person.

    • Clockie 8.3

      Actually Farrar has just posted on it.

  9. Roy 9

    Despite my profound cynicism about Susan Devoy’s appointment, I have to say that I generally approve of her comments over this one. She has risen in my estimation. I wish she had been as critical of Winston Peters’ Asian-bashing speech.

  10. Molly 10

    Should have been working on my submission to the Unitary Plan, but thanks for providing the links to make it impossible not to complain. FWIW, my complaint was short:

    “I am writing to add another complaint to your decision to publish Al Nisbet’s cartoon on School breakfasts.

    Satire relating to decisions or actions of those in power is a way of drawing attention to a topic of worth. Many cartoons spark discussion or draw attention to flaws in perception in such a way.

    Drawing on ill-considered stereotypes of those already disenfranchised and powerless is only reinforcing limited prejudices and eliminates any worthwhile discussions on solutions. This is what Al Nisbet’s cartoons have done.

    If you console yourself, with the number of supportive emails you have received then ponder this – perhaps your editing decisions have been reinforcing this message for a long, long time.”

    • Molly 10.1

      Using Reply to publish responses from Steve Mason re above complaint:
      (Private name and email redacted AKA National party guidelines…)

      On 31/05/2013 12:21 p.m., Steve Mason wrote:
      Hello XXXXX

      I appreciate you taking the time to email me. Your feedback on the Nisbet cartoon is valuable.
      Please let me know if you would like a more detailed response on my reasons for publishing the cartoon.

      Thank you,

      On 31 May 2013 12:36:

      Thank you Steve,

      I would assume that you have already drafted a response for other complainants, so would be interested in seeing your justifications.

      I would advise that any reasoning that is given will be posted in some of the comments sections online.


      On 31/05/2013 12:49 p.m., Steve Mason wrote:


      I haven’t drafted anything yet other than my comments on our website and in our paper today.
      I will respond in detail as soon as possible.


      • Molly 10.1.1

        Steve’s comment in the Marlborough Express FWIW:

        The cartoon published in the Express yesterday on the breakfast in schools scheme has offended some of our readers because of the stereotypes it uses.

        Some readers have told me they expect a higher standard of opinion in our content and I value their comments.

        Cartoons are a satirical means of commenting on topical issues and stimulating discussion.

        At times they step over the line of what readers find acceptable.

        The discussion has been valuable to me as editor and I hope it also continues on why there are children in the country going to school hungry.

  11. prism 11

    These cartoons use the laugh at the non-conforming to type effect. Conforming people feel superior and comfortable. They despise the non-conforming and strugglers. The difficulties that people who aren’t doing well in society have either through fate or their own agency, are legitimate subject for scorn and amusement in this situation. There is no understanding of the processes that lead to their situation, and no wish to understand, comprehend have compassion to others.

    The non-conformers, non-achievers, are easy to pick on from outside the group. There wouldn’t be many in this lower income group that would savagely lampoon themselves although self-hate and constant immersion of trying for a hopeless future does lead to individuals rejecting themselves. This is through self-harming, over-eating comfort-bringing calorie foods, or cutting, erasing sadness with drugs of all types, and the government’s legal drug of alcohol, and of course gambling which requires attention and is accompanied by friendly sounds and social settings that push everyday reality to the side. And finally turning violence inwards and committing suicide or outward with serious violence to others.

    Women used to be a target for derision, being caricatured in ways that showed diminished respect for them as people. Attitudes of derision become rooted and are as hard to get rid of as pernicious weeds. And like weeds they have to be regularly watched and worked on. Criticism must be balanced with understanding of the group’s approach to managing life. Derision doesn’t attempt understanding or human compassion. Talk about freedom of expression or speech is just weasel words for not being willing to have any restraint of facile opinion, or have concern for those who start in negative situations and then get into a rut or if trying for better, have to struggle harder than most.

  12. Bill 12

    All those cartoons did was reflect back to many people their own deep seated racism. And their racist attitudes are condoned by the fact the cartoons were printed by msm outlets…y’know, ‘middle of the road’, ‘safe’, ‘acceptable’ publications.

    That a portion of NZ’s population has expressed disgust or alarm is, well…does it tackle the fact that racism is such an integral part of the fabric of NZ society? No it doesn’t.

    The cartoons seem to be being treated in isolation – as something of a blip in an otherwise racially harmonious NZ. And that’s a false picture – a false picture which, ironically, those speaking out on the cartoons’ content, might be in danger of re-affirming through the (so far) rather exclusive focus on these scribblings of Nisbet.

    • Anne 12.1

      All those cartoons did was reflect back to many people their own deep seated racism.

      So true Bill and it was reflected in a poll TV3 ran on Campbell Live last night. Despite 10 to 15 minutes of street interviews (all of whom expressed their disgust to varying degrees) and a couple of school principles who well and truly debunked the inherent racist stereotyping, the end result was some 77% believed those cartoons depicted reality.

      It’s profoundly sad.

      • McFlock 12.1.1

        yes – was visiting the parents when that came on – we were all a bit gobsmacked.

        I wander what Kyle Chapman’s phone bill is today? 🙂

      • Bill 12.1.2

        Would have have to have seen the poll question. I mean – it is a reality…that some parents are selfish and negligent. But that’s not to say that such people are generally representative of poor people.

        • Anne

          The question was from memory:

          Did the cartoons depict the reality?

          Well no, they didn’t. Sure, there will always be a minority of people who try to rip off any system. But the reality is: that happens throughout a cross-section of society and, in it’s broadest sense, is not dominated by the ‘brown skinned’ among us. And lest anyone argues otherwise, that is exactly what the cartoon was suggesting – hence the predominance (in size) of obese, brown skinned Maoris/Pacific Islanders.

      • Rodel 12.1.3

        Anne……It is profoundly sad that anyone takes any notice of those media polls. The retards who conduct them are surpassed only by the retards who respond and they are surpassed only by those who take notice of the so called results.
        Imagine if we conducted elections like this.
        Oh sh*t …we do.!

    • Green machine UpandComer 12.2

      my grandad is brown, with a brown wife, and I’m brown. he fed 11 kids on a janitor’s income. 6 girls in one room, 3 boys in another, 2 in the garage. One bathroom. They got half a sandwich, an orange quarter, and a cracker with a bit of cheese for school, but they got fed, and supplemented this with paper run money. The cartoon is absolutely dead on the money. If my grandad could do it, poorer then any of you ridiculous people and anyone you know who isn’t actually homeless, bankrupt, and living in a cardboard box, then anyone getting welfare can do it. the only reasons Maori and Sa/tongan kids go hungry is because the parents are like the ones in the cartoon. None of my aunties and uncles were fat either, but all the brothers and sisters these days are fat, and again it’s the parents fault. So get over your faux outrage. yes poverty gnaws, yes to this that and the other, but the cartoon is dead on.

  13. Venezia 13

    Well stated Molly.

  14. prism 14

    All true. But included in the overview of this matter should be the seemingly inbuilt tendency of all humans to choose someone, some group or some animal to denigrate, which I suppose makes each person feel satisfied that they match or exceed the current societal standard, that they are better and more important than their subject comparison. (I’m not like theem.)

    • Bill 14.1

      I’m not convinced that negative ‘othering’ is an inbuilt tendency so much as a socially constructed response. And it’s usually encouraged by those in power to blindside those who power is excercised over – to deflect them from an accurate appraisal of why they are ‘done over’.

      In the past, that’s been Jews or the Irish or immigrants or catholics or just about whoever and whatever a label can be pinned to.

      When we were kids, our tendency to notice difference – ie the beginnings of ‘othering’ – was a pathway for 5positive curiosity and an expansion of our world view. And that ended dynamics that would seek to fearfully isolate and/or denigate.

  15. Bill 15

    Thoughtful piece by Ruth DeSouza. Included are the pertinant remarks by the former Race Relations Commissioner around the time of ‘the prophet’ cartoons. And this quote from a cartoonist that echoes what Olwyn said testerday and that I’ll paste in full.

    As a cartoonist I am not interested in defending the dominant, the powerful, the well-resourced and the well-armed because such groups are usually not in need of advocacy, moral support or sympathetic understanding; they have already organised sufficient publicity for themselves and prosecute their points of view with great efficiency.
    The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society. And the cartoonist’s task is not so much to be balanced as to give balance, particularly in situations of disproportionate power relationships such as we see in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a healthy tradition dating back to the court jester and beyond: to be the dissenting protesting voice that speaks when others cannot or will not.


  16. prism 16

    That’s a well-worded explanation of this cartoonist’s mind. And achieving the high effect that cartooning can achieve I guess. Not Al Nisbet – sounds like he developed his craft drawing on sodden beer mats.

  17. TheContrarian 17

    Here’s what bothers me about the assumption that a free breakfast it will mean parental responsibility will be shirked..

    Parents who already lack responsibility and who drink, smoke and gamble instead of properly feeding and/or clothing their children (and for sure, they are out there) are already doing this, regardless of a free breakfast.

    But what I can’t see is any parent turning around and saying “Now that I don’t have to feed my child I think I’ll take that money saved and take up gambling/smoking/drinking”. Those parents are all ready responsible parents so the money may go to heating or clothing for an example.

    No one is going to go “Sweet, I’m going to use that weetbix money to get pissed” unless they were doing it already.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 17.1

      Here’s what bothers me. It’s almost as though you think poverty – especially intergenerational poverty, doesn’t damage people. The financial pressures are bad enough, but high inequality gnaws at the spirit like a rat in the belly. When the damage manifests itself as poor parenting, you act all offended and surprised.

      What’s more, it’s disingenuous in the extreme to pretend that benefit levels are adequate. What do you think the cost of a prescription, say, does to a weekly budget? Or relentless gouging by power companies?

      • TheContrarian 17.1.1

        I was making a general comment about a specific position some idiots take.

        Not writing a dissertation on poverty or benefit levels.
        “It’s almost as though you think poverty – especially intergenerational poverty, doesn’t damage people.”
        “What’s more, it’s disingenuous in the extreme to pretend that benefit levels are adequate.”

        “When the damage manifests itself as poor parenting, you act all offended and surprised.”

        Yeah – I actually didn’t make any comment that was even remotely suggestive of the above.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead

          I agree that the “help diminishes responsibility” argument doesn’t hold water, but neither does the corrosive pervasive smoking drinking bene meme.

      • weka 17.1.2

        +1 OAK.

        And let’s remember that the benefits got cut in 1990, and the rates have never been increased since then apart from some adjustments for inflation. As far as I know that inflation doesn’t take into account things like the increase in petrol price, or accommodation costs, or the new telecommunications. WINZ now consider a phone to be something everyone has, so you can’t get extra support to help with phone costs. But they never put the benefit up, so people now have those costs to cover that didn’t exist in the past from the base benefit. The base benefit is a much tighter squeeze now than it was 25 years ago.

      • prism 17.1.3

        “The financial pressures are bad enough, but high inequality gnaws at the spirit like a rat in the belly.”
        That’s well said. I don’t think that comfortably off people know what continual deprivation and knockbacks do to the spirit. I say that people are vulnerable and need to be able to have hope and opportunities to find a place for themselves doing legal things, get a job with set hours so some time for living and a living wage to do it on. Then a bit of money to spend on their children or fun.

        They probably could do with budgeting and life coaching to get the best out of what they have got. But in fact there’s not much help or advice much and the budgeting people are overwhelmed and there just isn’t enough social assistance to go round.

        There is little for the poor and what’s more the purse string holders want to squeeze every drop till they drop. They have a house and want to take in a boarder to help with costs, forbidden by Housing Corp. Really the wealthy want to punish the poor. Remember Jenny Shipley and Ruth Richardson – the wealthy woman is more smug complacent preachy vindictive critical etc. than men are. The idea of a bene buying chocolate biscuits put them through the roof. There shall be no pleasure in life for you, you reptiles was their message.

    • Bill 17.2

      That’s all probably true TC. But the suggestion is that only those who gamble, smoke and drink their food money away are unable to adequately feed their children. And that’s just not true.

      So instead of facing the fact that there is deep systemic poverty in this country and then insisting that something is done about it, Nesbit and his ilk are denying the fact poverty exists beyond that which has come about through poor levels of personal responsibility. And that allows for an ‘undeserving poor’ bandwagon to gain momentum.

      • TheContrarian 17.2.1

        “But the suggestion is that only those who gamble, smoke and drink their food money away are unable to adequately feed their children.”

        I don’t believe that and wasn’t trying to make that suggestion. Just making a general gripe.

        • Bill

          You don’t think that’s the message put out there by the cartoon….pfft…what can I say?

          • TheContrarian

            It is the message I agree, sorry I thought you were saying i was suggesting that.

    • bad12 17.3

      Well said…and we have a duty to each other as a society to show those kids,(all kids), that we as a society can and will provide for them, the school setting for kids where the parents cannot or will not provide what’s necessary is obviously the best place to direct resources such as food, clothing and medical interventions,

      Having said that, applying taxation to benefits, directly cutting benefits and refusing to apply working for families to the children of beneficiaries has lead us to this point and if ‘blame’ is to be assessed and allocated the political party’s in my opinion have as much to answer for, if not more, than the parents….

  18. Santi 18

    I can only laugh at the hypersensitivity of the Left.

    • McFlock 18.1

      If the cartoons were any good, you’d also be able to laugh at them, too.

    • mac1 18.2

      Yours must be a sad existence then, if that’s all that you can laugh at, Santi.

      Perhaps you meant, “I can but laugh etc.?”

      But then I’m a hypersensitive leftie, especially to poorly expressed views.

    • prism 18.3


      I can only laugh at the hypersensitivity of the Left.

      Yes we have noticed that you can only laugh – your model doesn’t have very advanced circuitry does it.

  19. Mary 19

    Key’s comparison with pornography is brilliant. I think he can be fairly relaxed that his comments won’t alienate any of his supporters, particularly the Christian conservatives. I’m sure they’ll be fine with the view that whether something’s pornography or not “is really in the eyes of what the individual thinks”. Well done John. You’re such a wholesome young thing. The Christians will love for it:


    • gobsmacked 19.1

      Point totally missed by Key. I don’t want politicians making it illegal to be a racist wanker, I just want them to say “you’re a racist wanker” (perhaps in more Parliamentary language). Defeat idiocy with free speech, principles and – oo er! – some courage.

      This silence in the face of the bigotry is profoundly depressing. Whether it’s from Key or Shearer (who? where?).

    • Jenny 19.2

      ” Poverty is like pornography. You know it, when you see it.”

      • Mary 19.2.1

        I hope someone asks Key in the House whether he stands by his comment that he thinks pornography “is really in the eyes of what the individual thinks”.

  20. McFlock 20

    somewhat intrigued that key even had to mention changing the law.

    Devoy is the one who put law change into play, so Key has to respond. I wonder if a slightly more experienced or qualified RRC would have been able to condemn the cartoons without causing questions for the government.

  21. ochocinco 21


    Another side show, like gay marriage

    What matters to the left is the CLASS STRUGGLE

    Issues of race (more correctly the “nationalities issue” per the accepted doctrine) are just distractions usually put forward by pitifully politically-ignorant “hippies” who have infected the left.

    • ochocinco 21.1

      I may add: the cartoons were incredibly unfunny, which is 100x more offensive than any faux racism

      • fatty 21.1.1

        Not sure about that, I think being unfunny is not worse than racism.
        Its a shame you dismiss equal rights based on race and sexuality. We had the class struggle under control (to a degree) during the post-war period, and how was that working for ethnic minorities? Not great…check the life expectancy, wages and political voice of Maori and Pacific Islanders during that period.

        I think that in these times it is fair to say the class struggle should be the central concern of the left. It is for Mana and the Greens, despite the media’s obsession with their identity based images.

        If you are talking about Labour, then you’ve made the rookie mistake of assuming they are a party of the left

        • ochocinco

          If we use a class lens, we still focus on Maori/PI as they are disproportionately lower class

          So we get the same end result – better results for Maori/PI – without the distractions of race.

          And while Mana is indeed class based, the Greens are NOT. The Greens are full of bourgeois liberal intelligentsia and as a card-carrying socialist I would rather have Act in power than the Greens.

          • fatty

            So we get the same end result – better results for Maori/PI – without the distractions of race.

            Really?..stats from the 1950s-1970s says we don’t. That is my point.

            Perhaps rather than looking at the education of the Green MPs, or their image, you should look at their policies. To use image/education as a yardstick, you are limiting your analysis and perpetuating the main problem that the Left has suffered from since the 1980s – turning their back on academics. Put simply, you have walked into the trap of the neoliberals (by furthering the idea that intellectuals from the hard sciences are the only ones worth listening to).

            This ain’t the 1950s, most people have a degree in their pocket these days

          • weka

            “And while Mana is indeed class based, the Greens are NOT. The Greens are full of bourgeois liberal intelligentsia and as a card-carrying socialist I would rather have Act in power than the Greens.”

            Ideological dogma… makes sense you would prefer ACT.

    • Pascal's bookie 21.2

      Would that be ‘the left’ that meets in a shoe box?

    • kiwicommie 21.3

      Are you serious or just trolling? The class struggle has always been one of equality (social and economic), that means everyone regardless of their race or their sexual orientation deserves equal rights. I don’t know what left you are talking about, because the left in New Zealand has always been opposed to racial discrimination, and prejudice.

    • Murray Olsen 21.4

      Funny sort of socialism that would rather see ACT in power than the Greens. I remember cloth capped guys with the same sort of ideas about women and Maori. They’d announce a meeting and say wives were welcome to come along to make tea and pikelets. They also called the Police to evict Maori activists from the TUC. No thanks, 85.

  22. RedBaronCV 22

    While we are on the subject of racism there were some comments here the other day about the woman with the tattoo who was not offered the AirNZ job. Does anybody know what share of the profits, bums on seats for AirNZ are New Zealanders, as opposed to other nationalities. I ask because I fly AirNZ, patriotic duty?, and I find AirNZ’s attitude incredibly offensive as I have no problem with being attended to by someone with a tattoo (sorry this may not be the correct term) and frankly I think their so called employee standards suck. I do have a problem with pale, male, stale wearing a suit telling me what I should find offensive. Letter to the marketing perhaps?

  23. Lloyd 23

    I am still awaiting a slightly modified version of one or both of these cartoons showing members of the Cabinet gloating that the small amount of money spent by Sanitarium and Fonterra has got the Nats off the social embarrassment of New Zealand children coming to school so hungry that they cannot learn, allowing the government to give tax breaks to themselves and their rich mates. This is of course likely to be considered racist and sexist as most of the cabinet are fat white men.

  24. Jenny 24

    It can cost parents less than 50 cents a day to give their child breakfast


    The cost of wheatbix or porridge is not the only societal reason that poorer families do not provide their children breakfast. Many of the working poor do not have the option of giving their children breakfast at home.

    Simply put, because they are not there.

    School typically starts about nine. Most of the factories and other workplaces in Auckland have start times well before that.

    With both parents working in the struggle to make ends meet, they are simply not in the house when the children are getting ready for school, or if they are they are, are rushing to get ready to go to work, It is not a matter of 50 cents for a bowl of wheatbix, it is money for something from the dairy.

    In Auckland it takes one hour or longer to commute to work. In response employers are demanding earlier and earlier start times to avoid rush hour. 7am 7.30am starts are typical.

    With these earlier start times.

    The question might be. How many adults go to work with out breakfast? I imagine it is a lot.

    In a dormitory suburb like Papakura, parents response to this time crunch is to give their children some money to buy something cheap from the dairy on the way to school. Being on low incomes it is not much, so it is for the cheapest nastiest junk food possible. Mince and cheese pies are the favourite.
    (poorer children get no money)

    I see the evidence of this on my way home. All the way from the dairy to the school gate you can see the cheap cellophane wrappers of the mince and cheese pies stuck in hedgerows and fences.

    • Populuxe1 24.1

      That assumes the family doesn’t all rise at more or less the same time, which would be unusual.

      • Puddleglum 24.1.1

        Dad used to get up at 5:15am and leave for work at 5:45am.

        Mum would boil the milk for our cornflakes, do some washing and get us up at 6:30am.

        She would finish the wash, hang it out, do other jobs and leave to catch the bus at 7:30am. We would leave for school on our bikes just before 8:00am.

        It ran my parents ragged but at least it was in a time of stable employment, stable communities and when the roads weren’t too busy to let an eight year old ride 5km to school.

        Dad worked Saturday mornings so the only breakfast we had together was Sunday.

        I didn’t realise it was unusual.

        • Populuxe1

          I think the distinction there is your mother was there for an hour except for the half hour before you went to school.

  25. Jenny 25

    What the nazis knew, and what our propaganda cartoonist of the right also knows, is that to succeed every lie should contain a little bit of truth.

    In the propaganda campaign he is waging against food in schools, the second Nisbit cartoon depicts, burping over weight children.

    Obesity has been termed a form of mal-nutrition. What I understand of the Harawira, Mana Party bill, is that as well as feeding the kids, it is a wholeistic plan to teach proper nutrition. As well as providing meals. Schools will have funding so Children can be instructed in the food preparation, proper nutrition and healthy eating. As well as food preperation children will be instructed in growing food in school gardens and in food self sufficiency.
    The corporate model being pushed by Key will have none of that. The motive of the corporate food providers is to create dependence on their mass produced products.

  26. Jenny 26

    Another indicator of the vicious racism evidenced by Nisbit, is in his first cartoon where all the white children are depicted as small and petite. As opposed to the Island/ Maori children who are depicted by Nisbit as gross cigarette smoking tattooed slobs.

    This sort of racist stereotyping is typical of the nazi or Jim Crow eras.

    That the MSM newspapers in this country give this repeat racist propagandist a platform in this day and age is disturbing.

    • Populuxe1 26.1

      Actually the Pakeha children all look pretty chubby to me. I note that his depiction of Pakeha tends toward absurdly long necks, sticky-out ears, comical noses and a lack of chin. Care to explain to me what racist propoganda this may represent.

      Particularly note Mr Nisbet’s scathing caricatures of politicians. Parliament statistics are dominated by Pakeha. Should we then infer that because Mr Nisbet depicts politicians as predominantly Pakeha that he is inferring that all Pakeha are slimy self-interested overweight middle-aged balding (including some of the women), lying rich pricks? That’s racist! I am offended!

      • Jenny 26.1.1

        Care to explain to me what racist propoganda this may represent.


        The white children are depicted pleasantly and of normal stature for children. Only the features of the Maori children have been greatly exaggerated. This is exactly reminiscent of the Coon Humour type cartoons that appeared in the era of Jim Crow up to the mid 20th Century.


        The purpose of the above mentioned cartoons was to demean, humiliate and stereotype, on behalf of a white elite. Just as Nisbet is trying to do with his exaggerated caricatures of Maori school children. It offends Nisbet and his supporters that those who have borne the brunt of the Neo liberal reforms and impoverished by it, should get any relief.

        Populuxe, under a veneer of reasonableness your attempt to justify and rationalise this bigoted imagery, marks you out as nothing more than an ignorant vicious racist.

        Before you object, watch the lecture.

        • Populuxe1

          The “white” children are hydrocepalitic midgets with no necks. If you were to bother to get off your high horse and do a little research, you would see that Nisbet is pretty consistent in his ridicule of groups and individuals across the spectrum, but you’d rather focus on this instance because it means you can show to the whole world how enlightened and sensitive you are. Good for you. Shrieking “racist” at people who disagree with your perception is trite. Nisbet’s crime is poor taste and crudity – not racism. He hates everyone equally.

          • felix

            I guess you’re right, Pop.

            The white kids are neckless midgets so therefore the cartoon doesn’t accuse maori of being overweight bludgers who spend all their money on vices and neglect their kids.

            Oh hang on, it still totally does. As you were.

            • Populuxe1

              Um, no – but you seem not to grasp the point of caricature. Only an idiot (you, for example) would imagine that this is anything other than a grossly exaggerated stereotype. You might have a point if it wasn’t patently clear that there is nothing naturalistic in any way about any Nisbet cartoon character regardless of supposed ethnicity. And actually all the cartoons are suggesting that SOME, by no means ALL, Maori AND Pakeha might abuse the system – which I doubt, but I am going from his owuvre, not two isolated samples.

          • Jenny

            Nisbet draws “scathing caricatures of politicians”.

            So what?

            It has long been a tactic of the extreme right to dismiss all politicians as corrupt and self serving. No matter what side of the political spectrum they come from. You can hear this refrain repeated every night on Talk Hate radio. This is because extreme right wingers who’s politics are motivated to protect the interests of privilege and power, have an instinctual hatred for the leveling power of democracy. Nisbet falls into this category. He is the Rush Limbaugh of cartoonists, consistently, pushing a jaundiced and extreme right wing point of view.

            • Populuxe1

              Given that the Nats and ACT are patently not democratic in any sense of the word, your thesis falls over there. If your magical powers of mind reading are accurate as to Nisbet’s worldview, he would be all over this Tory elitist scum with his tongue hanging out.

      • rosy 26.1.2

        “Mr Nisbet depicts politicians as predominantly Pakeha”

        Politicians are predominately Pakeha. As are most poor people. So I do wonder why doesn’t he depict most poor people in these cartoons (bludgers?) as Pakeha?

        • Populuxe1

          Statistics New Zealand says otherwise.

          • Populuxe1

            Also you are making massive value judgments based on two cartoons.

          • rosy

            It does? Last I looked about 17% of Pakeha were in the lowest income quintile (27% Maori; 28% Pacific). Given how many Pakeha there are in the general population compared with Maori/Pacific… But that was some MSD stats about household income trends. Inequality has grown so much recently and inequality growth has an ethnic bias so I may be wrong now. Happy to be corrected.

            As for value judgments on 2 cartoons – I thought it was a rhetorical question. Although given what I’ve learned about Mr Nisbet’s beliefs over the last few days I do judge him to be rather biased against poor brown people.

              • Frankie and Benjy Mouse

                *sigh* double
                page 22 of 27 says
                “However, Pākehā still constitute over 60% of the poor population”.
                So as Rosy said
                “So I do wonder why doesn’t he depict most poor people in these cartoons (bludgers?) as Pakeha?”
                What was Pop reading from his link above?

                • rosy

                  Thanks F&BM. Amazing what you find when reading links.

                  About that stats data, Pop?

                  For more recent MSD data:

                  Using the AHC 60% of median fixed line measure, just over half (52%) of those identified as poor are in the European/Pakeha group, 27% in the Maori and Pacific groups, and 21% in the Other group.

                  Using a more stringent poverty line (50% of median), the composition proportions are 51%, 25% and 24% respectively. There is no evidence here of greater depth of poverty for any one group.

                  So numerically there are still more Pakeha who are poor. But thanks to the GFC Maori rates of poverty have increased substantially. Unless ‘austerity’ for the poor is cancelled there will be more non-Pakeha poor pretty soon.

                  Shame on this government for not managing unemployment and increasing low pay precarious work options. I’d like to see Nisbet draw a cartoon of big white male politicians discussing what to do about that. Bennett, of course, would be the token ‘other’ politician.

                • Populuxe1

                  As the document says, there are a range of definitions for poverty and some of them are ambiguous. Rosy references the lowest quintile:
                  “It does? Last I looked about 17% of Pakeha were in the lowest income quintile (27% Maori; 28% Pacific).”
                  His stats are accurate, but if we are going to look at the lowest quintile as the one most in need of food in schools, that’s still 55% Maori and PI to 17% Pakeha. That of course is a by-product of colonisation and the kinds of ethnical antipathies found in all ethnically defined communities.
                  However if you’ll switch off your confirmation bias for a second, the first cartoon does indeed depict two bludging Pakeha, and the second may well represent a bi-racial family. It is a crude, exaggerated, image, but no more racist – which is to say lumping all Maori together as self-centred bludgers and bad parents – than Billy T James’ portrayal of a feckless, illiterate and quasi-criminal Maori character.

                  • rosy

                    “His stats are accurate, but if we are going to look at the lowest quintile as the one most in need of food in schools, that’s still 55% Maori and PI to 17%”

                    The more recent doc considers there are no apparent group differences in the depth of poverty.

                    “That of course is a by-product of colonisation and the kinds of ethnical antipathies found in all ethnically defined communities.”

                    I’m making absolutely no statement about the causes of poverty, or the hell many Maori and Pacific Peoples deal with everyday due to being colonised, brown, poor and denigrated for their cultural values. However I do feel inaccurate depiction of who the poor are divides the working class when it needs to be united. And that is important to me.

                    “However if you’ll switch off your confirmation bias for a second, the first cartoon does indeed depict two bludging Pakeha, and the second may well represent a bi-racial family.”

                    Those wee little kiddies in front? They’re the deserving poor – unlike those big, greedy, smoking, drinking, brown people muscling in on free food.

                    “It is a crude, exaggerated, image, but no more racist – which is to say lumping all Maori together as self-centred bludgers and bad parents – than Billy T James’ portrayal of a feckless, illiterate and quasi-criminal Maori character.”

                    Billy T was at least, Maori. Unlike Nesbit. Having said that I wasn’t too fussed on the less clever, more pandering to the redneck, work of Billy T either. I especially didn’t like it when (like Bro’ Town) it gave some Pakeha I know a opportunity to ridicule others themselves – strutting and talking with faux-accents. But maybe Billy T was just having a laugh.

                    What makes Nesbit’s cartoons, at best bigoted and at worst racist, is his politics. That provides context. And as for your comment (down thread) that people might think his depiction of Key with a big nose could be construed as anti-semetic? Yes, it could. Particularly if Nesbit’s right-wing policies are as extreme as this lot that he apparently has time for. I mean those Jews can only be communists or bankers right, and that makes all of them thieves? /sarc

  27. Clockie 27

    Just thought I’d link to The Civilian’s take on the Nisbet cartoons for those who didn’t think to check it out.


    For my money, for a young guy, Ben Uffindell has a delightful and finely tuned sense of what satire should be.

  28. Rodel 28

    A Tory friend of mine (yes I have one) chuckled at the Nisbett cartoons..saying, ‘we know it’s true, dont we?’
    Minutes before he was describing a meal he’d had at at restaurant on a recent trip to Monte Carlo with his partner. Bit of a shock, lovely lunch but the bill was over NZ$300…’still ..you can’t put a price on an experience like that, can you?’
    The recipients of John Key’s ‘generous’ food in schools programme might well agree.
    Tories are blind to irony.

    • Populuxe1 28.1

      Funny sort of friend if you snark about him behind his back for spending his own money how he wants.

      • kiwicommie 28.1.1

        Funny sort of friend if you snark about him behind his back for spending his own money how he wants.

        He didn’t include personal information in his comment; and just because you are friends with someone, doesn’t mean you can’t disagree over personal choices, and politics.

        • Populuxe1

          Whatever lets you sleep at night.

          • kiwicommie

            What does sleeping habits have to do with anything?

          • Jenny

            Have you watched the power point presentation yet, Populuxe? Or are you happy and content in your racist ignorance?


            • Populuxe1

              The point you keep missing in your one-eyed way, Jenny, is that you would be correct if Nisbet’s oeuvre consistently portrayed all Pakeha as noble and all Maori as degenerate. This is patently not the case. Caracatures are consistent across ethnicities (I don’t recall anyone protesting his depiction of Key with an enormous nose that could be considered anti-semitic by some).
              I don’t particularly like the way he has linked Maori to benefit abuse, or the way he has yolked food in schools to benefit abuse, but because I have seen hundreds of Nisbet cartoons over the years, I think I have a good sample to draw on to form an opinion on whether he is a racist or not.
              I am glad to live in a country where freedon of speech is protected, where cartoonists can be obnoxious, and where you are free to criticise him. Nothing is sacrosanct.

              • Colonial Viper

                Judging by this thread you are a really committed fan.

                I am glad to live in a country where freedon of speech is protected, where cartoonists can be obnoxious, and where you are free to criticise him. Nothing is sacrosanct.

                This is not the society that we live in. And it doesn’t recognise the power and influence – and hence the responsibility – of those in the media.

                • Populuxe1

                  “This is not the society that we live in.”
                  Well what the fuck do you think you’re doing right now? Yes, speaking freely – unlike, say, China, where the little policeman logo would be showing up about now. You’re really hung up on the “media” – which really marks you out as an old fart because only old farts depend on the mainstream media in the first place. No one seriously interested in the world depends on trash like the mainstream media. It’s not even worth discussing except to note its death throws.
                  And no, I’m not a fan of Nisbet, but I understand the rich history of satirical cartoons going back to Hogarth, or even Leonardo, and I stand on the principle of equal treatment for everyone and the right to satire.

  29. Roy 29

    Nisbet seems to have failed to learn that ‘If you’re in a hole, stop digging’:


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