The writ­ing/car­toon on her wall

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

It’s a fa­mil­iar opin­ion (used par­tic­u­larly by me­dia pho­tog­ra­phers in de­fence of their trade): ‘‘ One pic­ture is worth thou­sands of words.’’

And some­times, right.

So are car­toon­ists. The truth of that is on this page. I re­mem­bered this car­toon as one of those word beat­ers last week – drawn more than a decade ago by Mal­colm Evans, one-time car­toon­ist in this and the other Sub­ur­ban news­pa­pers and be­fore that the Her­ald.

The car­toon’s im­pact has stood the test of time – sum­ming up the con­tin­u­ing fail­ure of Maori lead­ers and many of the peo­ple they lead to grap­ple with vi­o­lence against chil­dren, made plain in hideous hospi­tal statis­tics and court­room facts.

It also prompted a rev­e­la­tion of long-stand­ing sup­port from reader Wik­i­to­ria Smith. She was so moved by the car­toon’s orig­i­nal ap­pear­ance all those years ago that she cut it out and put it on her wall.

Her let­ter: ‘‘I very well re­mem­ber the Mal­colm Evans car­toon il­lus­tra­tion of two marae as I was so touched by it that I con­tacted Mal­colm to thank him for his brav­ery and I en­larged and pho­to­copied the piece.

‘‘I still have them hang­ing

they’re on my wall. Why? To re­mind me how frag­ile our ba­bies, tamariki, mokop­una are in the hands of those who should be lov­ing them, not abus­ing them, and how do I, as a mi­nor­ity of one, help to make a change?

‘‘I hope sin­cerely that I am in my own small way by vol­un­teer­ing to work with sin­gle moth­ers.

‘‘At the time I saw the car­toon I was so sad be­cause what he had por­trayed was so true that it made me cry.

‘‘Imag­ine that? A car­toon mak­ing me cry!

‘‘The marae on the left shown full of peo­ple was in re­sponse to what had hap­pened with Dover Sa­muels over al­le­ga­tions of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour and the hue and cry sup­ported by many over it. And the marae on the right where the topic was child abuse was empty of peo­ple.

‘‘Sadly, this many years later, the ques­tion has to be asked: ‘ What has changed?’ New gen­er­a­tions have come along to re­place the old but with the same prob­lems, if not es­ca­lated heights.

‘‘At-risk youth are the tick­ing time bomb where gated com­mu­ni­ties may have to be the norm.

‘‘Around the same time, Mal­colm Evans also had an­other car­toon il­lus­tra­tion, show­ing the Clos­ing of the Gaps pol­icy of Labour.

‘‘It showed a clifftop of two sides with a deep hole in the mid­dle. Down that hole was filled with coffins.

‘‘Again I cried. It was an­other stark mes­sage that was so chill­ing for the truth of it. I felt that Mal­colm had cap­tured poignantly a sit­u­a­tion that was so sad for the truth of it all.

‘‘I am a mother who has pre­vi­ously had a life of abuse and tor­ture at the hands of some­one who pro­fessed to love me. It was some time in our lives and four chil­dren later that I re­alised how toxic a love it was.

‘‘For­tu­nately, I can look back on my life and know that my chil­dren, in spite of it, have turned out good and re­spon­si­ble par­ents.



‘‘As I have al­ways said to them, I know that I am not the best mother in the world but I damn well know that I’m not the worst!’’ Heard on ra­dio: Name­less Maori ex­ec­u­tives drive ex­pen­sive cars and live a high life on the strength of Treaty set­tle­ments while Maori fam­i­lies in their area strug­gle on var­i­ous government pay­outs and in in­ad­e­quate hous­ing which are a health men­ace. Strong and ac­cu­rate words.

The critic: Nga­puhi el­der David Rankin. Among re­cent head­lin­ing Rankin state­ments: ‘‘Aca­demic Tal­iban’’ are con­spir­ing to hide the truth that Maori were not the first peo­ple to live in New Zealand.

‘‘If we be­lieve our his­to­ries then we as Maori are not the in­dige­nous peo­ple.’’

He said Maori

sto­ries speak of his an­ces­tors land­ing here be­ing greeted by a dif­fer­ent cul­ture. They talked of a red-headed, fair-skinned peo­ple.

Crit­ics re­sponded that this was a ‘‘wild spec­u­la­tion ... which has been around a long time and has been thor­oughly dis­posed of by aca­demic spe­cial­ists’’. I wasn’t sure which hurt the crit­ics most, the the­ory or that ‘‘Tal­iban Aca­demic’’ la­bel.

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