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SOLOMON IS: 'Offensive' Cook Islands cartoon stirs up controversy

The Duchess of Cambridge wearing her Cook Islands-made TAV dress at the Solomon Islands Governor-General’s house in Honiara talking with a local woman. Image: Cook Islands News

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Item: 8117

Ednal Palmer

HONIARA (Solomon Star / Pacific Media Watch): A dress blunder over the Cook Islands outfits worn by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting their recent visit to the Solomon Islands has stirred up more controversy - this time over a cartoon.

Following the revelation of an alleged "protocol breach" which resulted in Prince William and his wife, Catherine, wearing Cook Islands-made outfits instead of the prepared Solomon Islands costumes, a Cook Islands newspaper has published a cartoon which many described as "mocking and offensive" to the Solomons people.

The Cook Islands News cartoon by Kata has been described as "very offensive and demeaning" to the Solomon Islands.

It shows a bare breasted woman looking very upset, with a caption stating "she's upset Kate chose a Tavs dress over her stink t-shirt."

The social media Facebook, has been flooded with comments from frustrated and disappointed Solomon Islanders, over the cartoon.

One commentator on Facebook said the cartoon has added more salt in the wound.

"This is very offensive, the newspaper should post an apology," he said.

Another contributor said: "Solomon Islanders have the right to be upset, if it was the other way around Cook Islanders would also be upset”.

Another said the cartoon depicting a bare chested woman throwing a tantrum is "a real mockery to our women and culture."

A senior government official speaking on the condition of anonymity said that there was always mutual respect between Pacific Islanders, "sThe controversial cartoon by Kata, Cook Islands News.o the decision to print the cartoon was a poor choice by the editor".

He said the mockery of Solomon Islands by a national newspaper would have negative repercussions for the two countries - both at the official level and general public perceptions.

A statement from the Governor-General's office says US representative Kethie Saunders had placed the Cook Islands clothes into the room of the Royal couple in a breach of protocol.

"We specifically asked for Prince William's measurements so we could make him a shirt with a map of the Solomon Islands on it.

"Catherine was advised she would wear one of her own dresses."

Saunders has told the Solomon Star the clothes from the Cook Islands had the letter from the designer pinned to them, and were not "smuggled" into the room.

"We are incredibly frustrated that this situation has come about and see Kethie as entirely to blame," a statement from the Clarence House in London said.

Clarence House said the Duchess would not have worn the dress if she had known it was not made in the Solomon Islands, and that she felt bad about the confusion.

Cook Islands News response:

I regret the offence this cartoon appears to have caused, as it was intended for our local audience and the sense of humour that our cartoonist, who has done this job for 18 years, perceives to exist among our readership. In Cook Islands Maori, kata means "laugh", and he strives to make that happen daily if possible.

We have received three letters from readers complaining that it was offensive. I accept their opinions, and respect all complaints, in the daily routine of running a robust newspaper which allows freedom of expression.

I refrain from censorship as an editorial cartoon by its very nature is meant to be satirical and provocative, and in this case was making light of the whole controversy, including your alarmist story which quoted unnamed sources and used words like ‘smuggle’ to describe the alleged methods by which Cook Islands garments ended up on the bodies of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

It’s all a bit over the top, PC, and excessive, in my view.

For you to publish our cartoon was a breach of copyright, and it has served only to stir up and incite emotion where it was not intended.

That said, I sincerely apologise for the offence some have felt over this, because this is not an issue or an illustration that is worth the grief.

John Woods
Managing Editor
Cook Islands News
Cook Islands

Cook Islands newspaper prints 'offensive' cartoon

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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Dress blunder a gain for TAV

The mess is a gain for TAV who have reported astronomical increases in orders and email enquiries on the dress worn by Kate!! Like Diana before her, the freelance journalists will always be after her and she will continue to have a viral effect in the fashion world. As a long time friend of the Cook Islands I would not want to see the relations between the two countries staled by a poor editorial decision. Mr. Woods has apologized and perhaps the Solomon islands media are not aware that he has done so?

Right royal dress blunder

SI and Cook Is are in for trouble over the Cook Islands news cartoon thing. The editor should now realise the mess it has caused.

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