By the time I got there, the Backbencher pub was packed, with more young student politicians than I’ve seen in a room together for a long time – a table packed with VUWSA/NZUSA types, and luckily, a few feminists of my acquaintance, who offered me a seat with them. Having dropped my bags on the chair, I jumped back up to speak to Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson, who introduced me to Chris Hipkins, new MP for Rimutaka – someone I remember from his years in VUWSA, far too long ago! Along with panelist Jacinda Adern, that was 3 new MP’s in the room, and the Labour support crew were very voluble.

The scene was set for a lively debate – the Young Nat’s represented by their president, Alex Mitchell; Jacinda Adern fronting for Young Labour; Kimo Winiata representing the Maaori Party; and Gareth Hughes, recent contestor of Ohariu electorate, for the Young Greens. Presenter Wallace Chapman reeled out the questions, and kept the pace moving in-between the recorded clips pasted into the programme.

Various funny things happened – one stunt, involving a ‘prize’ framed photo of John Key, fell flat when someone was asked to name Phil Goff’s deputy; having correctly answered ‘Annette King’, he then vociferously turned down the ‘prize’, at which point a voice yells from the back “I’ll have it!”, and along comes Joel Cosgrove, recent past-President of VUWSA, to claim John key’s photo – stunning Chapman into reading out the caption on his (Workers’ Party campaign) t-shirt. Just watch the video on-line, it’s priceless footage.

Back Benches Ep 34

At intervals, Chapman repeated to the assembled (mostly) students, how great it was to have such a good crowd, and please come down for the next 4 weeks, until the last episode of the season.
Info about the show here.

And since they were looking so photogenic, I’ll add some pix:

the panel, being wired for sound

the panel, being wired for sound

View of the crowd as filming begins

View of the crowd as filming begins

'the bogan from Gisbourne'

'the bogan from Gisbourne'

This is the review I’ve been promising since the middle of last week. I’ll only excuse my tardiness by saying that after a week of speaking franglais amongst the multi-lingual cartoonists, I’m a little short on english grammar, and had to wait a couple of days for my brain to settle down to one or the other language!

I’ll admit that I went along because of my prior experiences with the Alliance Française, my first academic love and favourite discipline, and secondly because a good friend who is also a cartoonist had talked the event up. As he has never recommended a graphic novel I didn’t like, I took him at his word.

I turned out for the first event, expecting to meet charming frenchmen (I was not wrong), but I was not expecting to find my political leanings (my second academic love, and my current activist practice) to be so effectively seduced; sometimes without even a word in any language, as these great talents showed their images on overhead transparencies. How the humble OHP was used to mighty ends that night!

Over the days that followed, panel by panel the personalities of these wildly varying artists emerged, to my amusement, and sometimes, to my shock; an electric frisson of recognition, as an issue that I have read, sang, protested or ranted about, was clearly elucidated by a few elegant lines of a pen-stroke.

Less is more was clearly demonstrated by Caro, Michel Kichka, Alan Moir, Plantu, Nicholas Vadot, Lat, Wiaz, Izel Rozental, Andrzej Krause, Ali Dilem, Jim Morin, Willem and No-Rio, with occasional forays by our locals, Garrick Tremain, Tom Scott, Malcolm Evans and Guy Body, at varying intervals throughout the presentations. I struggled to keep my composure at times, as very grim or challenging images addressed the serious problems war creates for the citizens of war-torn countries; this was balanced by the moments when, in the words of Nicholas Vadot, the cartoonists showed that “deep down inside we’re all just naughty boys with a shocking sense of humour”, as he exhibited yet another risqué scribble (‘oh, yes, these never got published’, he murmured).

Generously, my sketchbook was signed and doodled in by these clever visitors; but the memories that linger in my mind are far stronger than the lines of black ink on the page, or my series of digital pix attempting to capture some coherent record of what I was referring to in my notes.

So, now comes the plug: for those of you who missed seeing these exceptional artists during their brief NZ visit, try some of these options;

Cathy Wilcox, regular at the Sydney Morning Herald smh.com.au
Jim Morin, from the Miami Herald miamiherald.com/jim_morin/
Alan Moir, also at the Sydney Morning Herald, smh.com.au/cartoons/
Garrick Tremain, from the Otago Daily Times, cartoonists seek peace not just pen
Tom Scott, the resident at the Dominion Post in Wellington, dominionpost
Malcolm Evans, famously sacked by the NZ Herald (I so like this man!) evanscartoons.com/
Guy Body, current incumbent at the NZ Herald, nzherald.co.nz/guy-body/
Grant Buist, in Capital Times, weekly, jitterati

And for my french-speaking friends:
Jean Plantureaux, dit Plantu, plantu.net/
Pierre Wiazemsky, dit Wiaz, tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/dessins/
Nicholas Vadot, dit Vadot, nicolasvadot.com (ok, this one lets you choose english or french versions – ‘cos he’s bilingual, and lives in Aussie!)
Caroline Rutz, dit Caro, carotoons.ch
Michel Kichka, israelcentersf.org/culture/profiles/michelkichka.shtml (although that’s in english, too)
Ali Dilem, ali-dilem-a-controversial-cartoonist and I can’t resist, facebook.com/pages/Ali-Dilem/15409790322
Izel Rozental, izelrozental.com/indexeng.htm
Bernard Willem Holtrop, dit Willem, willem_expo.htm
Norio Yamanoi, dit No-rio, yamanoi
Kim Song Heng, dit Heng, heng.pdf
Mohd Nor bin Khalid, dit Lat, lat.pdf

Here’s some pictures from Day 1, the programme is available at the link below.
It has been amazing listening to cartoonists from many countries discussing how they deal with the politics of repression and censorship under various régimes; and to hear dialogue between cartoonists from different perspectives.
I’m tired, I’ll do a better review post later!

Banner for Symposium

Banner for Symposium

Cartoonists on Ilott Theatre stage

Cartoonists on Ilott Theatre stage

Forum programme.

Jitterati about the Forum.

In Memorium

November 11, 2008

Today is Armistice Day, so at around 11am, on the 11th day, of the 11th month, I’m posting this as a tribute to my great-uncles, Jack and Bob Stevenson, teenagers who left for the War to End all Wars, and died in France, one before his eighteenth birthday – ‘cos they were farmers’ sons, recruited from high school, underage.
Requisat in pace.

As I’m a literary grad foremost, I know this poem from way back. It’s not popular in the NZ curriculum any more, so I’m going to quote it in it’s entirety.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped five-nines that dropped behind.

GAS! GAS! Quick boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But some still yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like men in fire or lime …
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind that wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues –
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory
The old lie: Dulce et Decorum Est
Pro Patria Mori

written August 1917
Wilfred Owen, 18-03-1893 – 01-11-1918

No more wars, please.
Peace Movement Aotearoa

Wellington, New Zealand, is the latest city to experience Cartooning for Peace, an initiative of the UN HQ in New York, set in motion by French cartoonist Plantu, of the influential french daily paper, Le Monde. In Wellington, the forum is hosted by the Alliance Française de Wellington, and began with a panel discussion at Rutherford House, VUW, lecture theatre 1 this evening, in conjunction with the Institute of International Affairs.

The programme can be found at the Alliance Française.

Have a look here for more about the organisation set up by Plantu and the UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe. This site contains an excellent slide show of works by artists associated with the organisation.

As you may have guessed, there are French cartoonists in this event – but also artists from Asia, the USA, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria and Kenya – I highly recommend going to see the exhibition of work, in the Michael Fowler Centre foyer, on until 15th November.
I managed to speak to a couple of the cartoonists this evening, who were most entertaining, and had discussed their work as political cartoonists during the panel, hosted by Tom Scott. There are many more events this week, so I’m aiming to get to a few more, and the good news is that these are free events, the point being to spread peace by ‘unlearning intolerance’ through humour.

Quite the antidote to the current trends in media, and a pleasant way to spend an evening, hearing dessinateurs committed to peace speaking about how they convey their messages through drawing.

NZ cartoonists represented include Garrick Tremain, Malcolm Evans, Guy Body, Tom Scott, and our local regular from Capital Times, Grant Buist, who gets to trek up to Palmerston North for an evening next week.

Wellington, New Zealand, is the latest city to experience Cartooning for Peace, an initiative of the UN HQ in New York, set in motion by French cartoonist Plantu, of the influential french daily paper, Le Monde. In Wellington, the forum is hosted by the Alliance Française de Wellington, and began with a panel discussion at Rutherford House, VUW, lecture theatre 1 this evening, in conjunction with the Institute of International Affairs.

The programme can be found at the Alliance Française.

Have a look here for more about the organisation set up by Plantu and the UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe. This site contains an excellent slide show of works by artists associated with the organisation.

As you may have guessed, there are French cartoonists in this event – but also artists from Asia, the USA, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria and Kenya – I highly recommend going to see the exhibition of work, in the Michael Fowler Centre foyer, on until 15th November.
I managed to speak to a couple of the cartoonists this evening, who were most entertaining, and had discussed their work as political cartoonists during the panel, hosted by Tom Scott. There are many more events this week, so I’m aiming to get to a few more, and the good news is that these are free events, the point being to spread peace by ‘unlearning intolerance’ through humour.

Quite the antidote to the current trends in media, and a pleasant way to spend an evening, hearing dessinateurs committed to peace speaking about how they convey their messages through drawing.

NZ cartoonists represented include Garrick Tremain, Malcolm Evans, Guy Body, Tom Scott, and our local regular from Capital Times, Grant Buist, who gets to trek up to Palmerston North for an evening next week.

Ooookay, this got written as a response to a bunch of spinning over on frogblog, from whingers who wanted to discount our efforts to be intelligible to voters. It got me grumpy, and I don’t even have a hangover! (BTW, it was a great partee last night in Wellington Central …)

As far as getting our message out goes, we spend less on advertising in print media than most other parties. The editorial bias came out promptly.

Have you noticed the two-party bias in the media over the past 3 – 4 weeks? Right down to the TV channels not running a leaders’ debate with leaders from all parties?

I went to a lot of candidates’ fora in Wellington; these were routinely not reported in media, even though media attended. Hearing from their own mouths what other parties’ candidates espoused in the way of policy and core values was very educational.

Shame most of the electorate missed out on hearing about that, ‘cos apart from one sarcastic & condescendingly reported piece in the Dompost, only Capital Times regularly did a round-up question to all the candidates.

Most of the green membership are engaged & capable of recognising, and dismissing, this bias; but mere citizens going about their daily lives, who are not political insiders, didn’t stand a chance of evaluating the ‘minor’ parties in this election race. It says a lot about the media self-selecting ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ early on, and hammering home points to the anxieties of the electorate.

The fourth estate has taken on pretensions of ruling/kingmaking in other countries, this is something we have avoided here up ’til now-ish, but I ‘m concerned that a pattern has been set that will be continued.

In my experience of campaigning for Green electorates, this has been one of the best election campaigns in the past decade. We’ve grown the vote by 33%, added 2 MP’s (and maybe 3) to Parliament, and mobilised a huge force of young campaigners and young voters. All of these seem like good outcomes to me!

For those outcomes, much kudos must go to Gary Reese, the National Campaign manager, and Pete Huggins, his assistant. I’m hoping they both had a huge sleep-in today, and don’t come near the net for a while; but shout-outs, if you’re reading this, guys! 😉

Arohanui ki a koutou katoa, nga kakariki, e hoa maa.

And, in my usual form, here’s some crowd shots from the night:

The Craftsman Bar, from the pavement

The Craftsman Bar, from the pavement


A view of the crush inside ...

A view of the crush inside ...

Umm, there’s more pix up on FB, for those who can find the Green Party event page…

Le Matt Juste

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