Advance NZ under fire for altering political cartoonist's work without permission

A US political cartoonist says Advance NZ/NZPP has promised to delete his art from their social media, after altered versions of his cartoons were repeatedly uploaded to the party's Facebook page.

Ben Garrison's cartoons are peppered throughout the party's Facebook account, often changed to fit a New Zealand context, with his signature removed and replaced by the Party's logo and Jami-Lee Ross' promoter statement. 

Garrison told Newshub he was contacted by someone from Advance NZ/NZPP saying they wanted to use one of his works with two changes - which he declined. 

"I never allow anyone to alter my work

"They did at least have the courtesy to ask for my permission to alter my cartoon - I did not grant it," he said.

Ben Garrison's original,unedited work.
Ben Garrison's original,unedited work. Photo credit: Ben Garrison.
The edited version posted by Advance NZ/NZPP.
The edited version posted by Advance NZ/NZPP. Photo credit: Advance NZ/NZPP/ Facebook.

He was not compensated for the use of his work and did not give the minor political party permission to use any more - but despite this, more and more altered works were posted.

"I did not grant them permission to begin using many more of my cartoons in their campaign. - [I] couldn't stop an inch, so they took a mile."

Garrison says Advance NZ has promised to delete the edited works and not do it again.

He says he will allow them to repost his work without charge "as long as they aren't altered".

"I exchanged emails with Michael Kelly during the last hour. He said he will take them down, and as long as he does I'll be satisfied."

Michael Kelly does not appear on the Advance NZ candidate list - but he did make headlines for donating $50,000 to the Party over August and September,according to documents released by co-leader Billy Te Kahika.

"I did tell him from the get-go that I could not grant permission to him to alter the cartoon but I was not clear or forceful enough and evidently he misinterpreted my email. I especially did not expect him to start altering a spate of them."

Garrison says Kelly has "expressed regret" and therefore he intends to move on. 

A spokesperson for Advance NZ told Newshub Garrison asked for his name to be removed from the cartoons.

"We interpreted his email to us as ongoing use provided his name was removed; Ben believed it was related to one cartoon. We both acknowledge there was a misunderstanding," the spokesperson said.

"We have agreed to remove all cartoons now his instructions are clearer than they originally were. This will happen by close of business today."

However some damage may have already been done - comments on the most recent use of Garrison's work show some Advance NZ/NZPP supporters are disappointed in the party, saying the use of the art is "uncool".

"Nothing funny about this at all," wrote one woman.

"I hope the artist sues your asses - he explicitly said NO to you using and editing his work and you went ahead and did it anyway. The government is supposedly trampling all over our rights and democratic freedoms yet here you lot are trampling over the rights and freedoms of the artist who did the original."

"Love the artwork but hate the idea that the artist isn't behind the cause or that this has been distributed without due diligence. Advanced NZ is about protecting rights -  I can only hope they aren't saying one thing and doing another."