Is this Rod Emmerson cartoon offensive or racist or neither?


Added to the problems within the Warriors is mixing Meds with energy drinks. Rod Emmerson 03/05/16

Added to the problems within the Warriors is mixing Meds with energy drinks. Rod Emmerson 03/05/16

It is time to do a comparison between Rod Emmerson’s cartoon A) and BoomSlang’s cartoon  B)



BoomSlang cartoon

1.Does the cartoon make a reference to Maori violence?

A) Yes, it uses the words, Once were Warriors which is reference to both the movie ‘Once were Warriors’ as well as the sports team.



B) Yes, it makes a reference to an event in the news, the killing of Moko, who was beaten before being killed.

2. Does the cartoon use a Maori symbol or a Maori word to help get its message across?

A) Yes, it uses a Maori design similar to the logo of the Warriors sports team



B) Yes, it uses the Maori word Ta Moko which is similar to the name of the child who was killed.

3. Is the message of the cartoon negative or critical and was a Maori symbol or word used to get this message across?

A) Yes, the Maori design which represents the Warriors team appears to be intoxicated and its tongue instead of being thrust out in a warrior like challenge is loose and lying on the ground. The design is burping as a further indication that the head is intoxicated.Also the eyes are spinning and unfocused.

B) Yes, a child is drawn with bruising, clutching a teddy bear who also has been beaten. The cartoon is linked to the news story of Moko by the use of the word Ta Moko and the explanation given for it.

So there you have it readers. I have outlined for you all the things the two cartoons have in common. Both use Maori in some way to make a point about a recent event in the news.Only one has been accused of racism yet both have linked Maori to violence as part of their message which is negative and critical. I think it was a clever play on words to link the Warriors story with a film title, just as it was clever to link Moko’s name with Ta Moko in order to get the cartoonist’s message across.

Should either cartoonist be labelled racist for employing a common technique of political cartoons? Is it racist to use Maori symbols, designs or words in a cartoon? Is it racist to make a negative or critical point about something that happened in the news when you are a political cartoonist or is that your job?

Finally is it fair to assume that the criticism made by both cartoonists extends beyond the one news event that they were referring to? Is it fair to assume that Rod Emmerson is criticising ALL sports teams with Maori designs because he mocked the Warriors? Or is it reasonable to assume that his criticism is about one particular news story?

Is it fair to assume that BoomSlang is criticising ALL Maori families?Or is it reasonable to assume that the criticism is about a news story about the abuse and slaughter of a Maori child?


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  • David Kerr

    The white fella (John Key, his fault), commenting makes it racist

  • shykiwibloke

    Bit of a moot point here SB – I’m guessing insufficient numbers of informed people actually read the Herald to have noticed!
    Now if the cartoon had appeared in a massively read blog like WOBH it might have been a different story.

  • oldmanNZ

    well one suggest maori beats up there kids (which 50% or so do)

    and one suggest the rugby team Warriors are drunks. (which may not all be maoris) but a hint that maori are drunks…which in maoris point of view are a good thing.

    • Sid_Holland

      Not “rugby team” – “rugby league team”

    • manuka416

      The suggestion that 50% of Maori beat up their kids is ludicrous, and the kind of ignorance that typifies racist remarks. The statistics support this problem: roughly 50% of domestic violence victims and offenders are Maori – the kind of over-representation that is shameful to Maori as a people.

  • One_step_beyond

    One key point is that the Emmerson cartoon uses Maori imagery for a problem that was exclusively Polynesian (Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Konrad Hurrel, Sam Lisone, and Albert Vete, if we’re talking about the recent prescription drugs issue) – making it actually quite offensive to Maori I would have thought?

    edit – Thompson is the sole player of Maori descent

  • Cadwallader

    Neither cartoon is humorous although the one about The Warriors is sarcastic.

    Neither cartoon is racist. Can depicting a truth ever be racist?

    Neither cartoon ought to create offence…but obviously the Moko one has. Is the offence taken genuine or driven by those who luxuriate in being offended and those who shy away from the truth?

    Both cartoons carry a message but the fortunes of a sports team are of little gravity alongside what is happening to maori children seemingly every week.

    Here’s a thought: Is the name Warriors a good name for a sports team which is intended to play a game in accordance with rules and etiquette? It may have been John Banks years ago who observed that “without Rugby League and the Army we’d need game-parks in New Zealand?”

    • phronesis

      I think you will find depicting the truth is the very worst kind of racism. Racism used to be defined by unfounded prejudice. Now racism is defined as pointing out the unfortunate truth.

      • sandalwood789

        “…racism is defined as pointing out the unfortunate truth.”

        It is true that that is what the left *do* ( cry “racist” when a truth is highlighted, and it is *what they want* to be the case).

        However, they are completely wrong in saying that pointing out the truth is racist.

        My reply to Cadwallader ( “Can depicting a truth ever be racist?” )
        Never (by definition). Truth and facts are *neutral*.
        They are what they are.

  • kiwisnab

    When I look at Emerson”s cartoon I also consider a third option “Once were warriors” as in the Maori were known as warriors. When considering this third option, the cartoon says “the Warriors were warriors, now they have gone to ruin through drink”

  • CheesyEarWax

    Am I racist to say that Maori probably cares more about fixing the Warriors than fixing child abuse?

    • manuka416

      Only if it’s racist to say that Pakeha probably care more about fixing the Wellington Phoenix than fixing white-collar crime.

    • sandalwood789

      Not at all.

      Maori have been over-represented in abuse figures for *decades* so it is fair to say that fixing child abuse is a very low priority among Maori.
      If it *weren’t* then we would already have seen progress there. We haven’t.

  • PersonOfColor:WHITE

    One can only TAKE offence, but GIVE ad hominem abuse calling someone ‘racist’.

    We should all give as we would wish to receive. Being offended is NO EXCUSE.

  • Superman

    Cartoon A is a commentary on the sad state of the Warriors Rugby League team and nothing to do with racism. It may be offensive to Warriors supporters but it’s true. Only the Warriors themselves can change things and I guess we all hope they do. I’m not sure about Cartoon B though.

  • Sticktotheknitting

    Not all white people bash their kids, not all Maori bash their kids, but those that do seem to get off very lightly because it is their culture. Apparently if you are from a lower socioeconomic background you are more likely to bash your kids however plenty of this group make a good life for themselves without hurting anyone at all.
    Cartoons are a very clever comment on society in general and anyone who is offended has something to hide.
    Please don’t be offended by my comment.

  • sandalwood789

    It is *neither* offensive nor racist.

    It is drawing attention to a *fact* (truth) and by definition, facts (truth) can not be racist.
    As for “offensive”, you’d need to be a really sad specimen of humanity to be offended by this cartoon.

  • old school

    The truth should never be seen as offensive to fair minded people.

  • Rob

    Racist is just a lazy word. Jslamaphobic and homophobic and all of the other ics and ists should be dropped fopm conversations.