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Does the NZ Herald even see what this cartoon is saying to Act and NZ First supporters? 

In brief
  • The Herald cartoon represents the left wing minor parties as very gentle and appealing. 
  • TPM is a bird. Green Party is a rabbit. 
  • ACT is a rat and NZ First is a venomous snake. 
  • Why is the Herald insulting 20% of voters? 
  • Imagine the outrage if they portrayed TPM as a rat/snake? 

What is the real point of this cartoon? 

The Herald ran a cartoon on 28 August 2023 (see inset). 

The cartoon is in relation to the announcement that Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was ruling out a coalition between his Labour Party and NZ First. 

That isn’t much in the way of ‘news’ as NZ First has already ruled out working with Hipkins well over a year ago and many times since. Also, they are plainly incompatible due to sharply opposing policies. 

Does the NZ Herald even see what this cartoon is saying to Act and NZ First supporters?  - Centrist
Illustration by Guy Body in the NZ Herald on 28 August 2023

What thousand words does this picture say?

This picture can be seen a number of different ways. The most obvious will be discussed first.

On the left hand side, and also left leaning politically, are the Te Pāti Māori and Green Parties. TPM is represented by what appears to be a Kiwi or some other bird, Green Party is a rabbit. Both creatures have general appeal and are associated with being nice and perhaps even victims. 

On the right hand side of the cartoon, and also more right politically, are ACT and NZ First. ACT is a rat and NZ First is a snake, both species generally associated with “to be avoided” and “not to be trusted”.

The obvious impression here is the TPM and Greens are not only depicted much more favourably than ACT and NZ First, but ACT and NZ First are depicted very disparagingly. What does this suggest about the cartoonist’s/Herald’s opinion of the roughly 20% of Kiwis likely to vote for them? 

Luxon and Hipkins are also in the picture. It tries to leave the impression Luxon is either gullible or wants to convince himself that it would not be foolish to go with NZ First. As for Hipkins, he doesn’t want to hear anything about it and is perhaps incredulous. This is a shot at Luxon and perhaps a nudge to him to rule out NZ First, something he has not done to date. Many suggest it would be unwise for him to do so.

Deeper meaning?

Maybe we are looking too hard, but if this cartoon was a message from the Riddler to Batman, the fact that only TPM was represented by a species indigenous to NZ would mean something like maybe only Māori truly belong. In any event, it is noteworthy the other 3 parties are either led or co-lead by a person who identifies as Māori.

Maybe the point is also being made that rats get eaten by snakes so that is why Seymour doesn’t want Peters in the cabinet.

On the one hand, it is a pretty good joke, which says a lot with few words. On the other hand it looks like a three for one smear job of every party to the right of  centre, with the election right around the corner.

Do you think the Herald would ever endorse such an insulting caricature of TPM?

We don’t.

Feature image by NZ Herald

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