“Heartless”-Paper Apologizes, Suspends Cartoonist

In Samoa almost 4000 people have come down with measles; 55, mostly young children, have died. The Samoan measles outbreak was turned into a gag by New Zealand cartoonist Garrick Tremain.

It sparked immediate outrage and was labelled racist, heartless, and insensitive.


The outcry led to the Otago Daily Times, who published the cartoon to issue an apology:

However cartoonist Tremain was not so forthcoming:

The creator of a cartoon joking about the Samoa measles epidemic is defending it as a ‘simple, innocuous joke’ and says he won’t be apologising “to the entirety of the Samoan nation”.

Even saying:

“I’ve had people ringing up and asking me for an apology and telling me I have no right to do cartoons or mention Samoa at the moment – so that rules out doing an apology because I could hardly do that without mentioning Samoa.”

Eventually Garrick issued an apology “to those offended”:

RNZ is the main source for this story.

RNZ also notes that Tremain has been barred from the paper for the time being.

The Otago Daily Times is reviewing Garrick Tremain’s future with the publication and will not publish any of his cartoons until the review is complete.


The Spinoff told of the cartoonist’s nonchalant attitude about the uproar…

“I can later regret having done it, but at the time obviously that did not occur to me. I thought it was an innocuous joke that didn’t mention anything about deaths or children, or things that everyone else seems to be so concerned about.” He also criticised a “politically correct atmosphere” that was “suffocating”, and suggested that there are people who wake up every morning looking for something to be offended by.

and that fellow journalists at the paper, like the general public, were upset.

Stuff follows up with a look at recent racist and insensitive New Zealand editorial cartoons.