Report – By the Pacific Media Centre news desk
Prime Minister Henry Puna has joined a public outcry over a controversial Cook Islands News cartoon mocking Solomon Islanders over their outrage over a dress protocol gaffe during the Duchess of Cambridge’s recent visit.
The Cook Islands leader branded the newspaper as “callous” and “devoid of community spirit”.
“I think it’s disgraceful,” he said shortly after returning from an overseas assignment to the United Nations where he had worked closely with Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo of the Solomon Islands and other Pacific Islands leaders.
Puna appealed to Cook Islanders to take a stand against such a “spiteful attitude to belittle our friends” in the Pacific.
He did not censor and a cartoon was supposed to be “satirical and provocative”.
“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,” Woods said in a Pacific Media Watch report.
“In Cook Islands Maori, kata means ‘laugh’, and he strives to make that happen daily if possible.”
Woods also condemned the Solomon Times for republishing the cartoon without permission, which was in breach of copyright.
The Solomon Times also reported a senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying that the mockery would have negative repercussions at both an official level and on general public perceptions, according to Radio NZ International.
The cartoon, showing an upset bare-breasted woman, has been criticised as offensive and disappointing.
The royal couple planned to wear garments from the Solomon Islands while visiting Honiara, but instead unintentionally wore clothing made in the Cook Islands.