Murray Ball, ONZM

Murray Hone Ball ONZM (26 Jan 1939 – 12 Mar 2017) was a New Zealand cartoonist who became known for his Stanley the Palaeolithic Hero (the longest running cartoon in Punch magazine), Bruce the Barbarian, All the King’s Comrades (also in Punch) and the long-running Footrot Flats comic series. In 2002 Ball became an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services as a cartoonist. More

gisborneherald Published on Mar 12, 2017
Murray Ball, Footrot Flats cartoonist, dies at 78
New Zealand has lost its most loved cartoonist, Gisborne’s Murray Ball.
Best known for the memorable characters in his cartoon strip Footrot Flats, the widely-respected artist died at home at 11.30am yesterday surrounded by family.

His wife Pam, three children and grandchildren were there, as well as Mr Ball’s brother Barry and close friends. Mr Ball had been out of the public eye due to Alzheimer’s, which he lived with for eight years. He was aged 78.
“It was a terribly sad and emotional day yesterday,” said Mr Ball’s wife Pam. “It was expected but it was terrible to see him go. It was lovely to have family and friends there but it was so, so hard the moment he went.” The family had received some wonderful tributes from around the world, she says.

Mayor Meng Foon described Mr Ball as a legend in our community. On behalf of the community, and the art in public places committee, he extended his heartfelt condolences to the Ball family. “Murray made us laugh, reflect and inspired us as proud New Zealanders. It was a great honour to present Murray’s key collection of cartoon books to the Beijing Olympic committee in 2008.” Mr Foon is pleased Wal and Dog will take pride of place at the entrance of the re-developed library. Murray, your legacy will take pride in Bright Street, a fitting place for such a bright shining star of our creative community.”

Gisborne artist and art teacher Norman Maclean remembers Mr Ball as a man of the soil who loved the country, animals and bird life. He also remembers him as a fine artist, although Mr Ball disagreed. “Murray used to say he was not an artist — which was ridiculous. His command of line was outstanding. For a time he broke into painting. His paintings were forceful, with a very strong line and a strong sense of immediacy.” The cartoonist’s sense of fun came to light while out riding with Mr Maclean. “The first time out he gave me a huge horse called Black. Murray knew what he would do at a certain point and that was to turn home. Black took off, my feet flew out of the stirrups and I heard hoots of laughter behind me.” Mr Ball was a complex figure though, says Mr Maclean. He was very serious-minded. “He thought deeply about political and social matters and had a great sense of justice and of a fair go for the average person.” Although he ascribed to no religion, he described himself as a Christian socialist and enjoyed many arguments with Mr Maclean about religion and philosophy.

In a tribute to Mr Ball, Prime Minister Bill English describes the Gisborne cartoonist as a thoughtful New Zealander “who took our unique sense of humour to the world”.

Cartoonist Tom Scott, who co-wrote the screenplay for Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale, told the New Zealand Herald Mr Ball was “funny and goofy and generous, and incredibly serious about inequality”. “He mourned the New Zealand he remembered being fair, and I guess if he had his life over again Murray would rather have been an editorial cartoonist.” Mr Scott also remembers Mr Ball as “an unbelievably strong, fit, handsome man all his life”.

New Zealand Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson said Footrot Flats captured the essence of New Zealand farm life. “But farm life is virtually the same the world over, hence it quickly became a household icon both here and abroad. How lucky are we to have had the pleasure of Murray Ball’s home-grown genius to entertain us when we needed it most.”

The funeral service will be held at Bushmere Arms on Friday at 1pm.


thatdickgmail Published on Oct 4, 2012
Footrot Flats Rugby Scene

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

GMRedWing Published on Jun 18, 2015
Footrot Flats – Wal’s Date gone wrong
Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale


Filed under Agriculture, Business, Design, Fun, Geography, Innovation, Inspiration, Leading edge, Media, Music, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Public interest

9 responses to “Murray Ball, ONZM

  1. pb

    Bill Leak gone too. That’s not funny.

  2. Elizabeth
  3. Elizabeth
  4. Elizabeth

    Wallace Cadwallader “Wal” Footrot and Dog by Murray Ball [via]

  5. Elizabeth


    Received from Mick Field
    Thu, 16 Mar 2017 at 7:48 p.m.

    Extracts from the Herald Sun on the passing of Bill Leak. He was a great cartoonist who wasn’t afraid to say things as they were – and was villified for it.

    A tribute to Bill Leak
    Desmond Robert “Bill” Leak was an Australian editorial cartoonist, caricaturist and portraitist.
    Born: 9 January 1956, Adelaide, Australia
    Died: 10 March 2017, Gosford, Australia


    A fine piece by Paul Kelly on the late Bill Leak, explaining why he is now so vilified by the Left.
    Kelly is right – Leak courageously fought against a toxic identity politics that reduces us to types, trashing our identity and shared humanity:

    Bill understood that the ideology making his job more difficult was actually dedicated to dismantling the cultural norms and traditions that have made Western societies such as Australia so successful…
    This is the progressive ideology. Its dogma, now pervasive in the academy, is that the West is founded on a bankrupt morality of imperialism, racism, exploitation, patriarchy and male violence and that these evils, still embedded in our existence, must now be identified, denounced and corrected. This is the origin of identity politics.
    It dictates that people be treated and honoured differently according to their race, religion, sex and gender and that this be incorporated in law, administration and institutional norms. The idea is presented as a moral good and its opponents depicted as moral retards, racists, sexists etc. It nurtures the cult of victimhood where the victim of a morally corrupt power structure must be honoured, rewarded and compensated.
    It is an attack on the idea of common humanity and equality in law and administration. It repudiates Martin Luther King’s immortal appeal when he said he wanted his children “to not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”. Indeed, it reverses that template…
    Bill’s cartoons provoked a backlash from two groups that shared a strange common bond: the Islamist militants and potential terrorists who threatened his life, forced him to move home and became a psychological cross he carried; and the warriors of the progressive Left who denounced him, campaigned against him, tried to break him, branded him a racist and triggered the section 18C provisions against him…

    From John Spooner, another fine and brave cartoonist, formerly with The Age:

    Congratulations to the Australian for republishing Bill Leak’s Mohammed cartoon. Bill would have loved that.
    I had a lot of memorable conversations with him since he first received those Islamist death threats. He was so grateful to have the total support of his colleagues. He could easily [have] gone under without that support, not to mention his loving family.
    The Islamist threat did change him I think. He became a fascinating blend of conscientious thoughtfulness and mischievous outrage.
    A lot of people don’t realize how much impish pleasure a cartoonist gets out of a good idea. After a very serious gripe about yet another ludicrous threat to civil liberty or morality he would say, “So this is what I’m going to do for tomorrow’s paper. What do you reckon?” Then came some hilarious word picture about the clash of gimp burkas and civilisation….
    He was also one of the few cartoonists in Australia who saw through the drivel of the global warming scare. He didn’t just wave a contrarian badge. He read seriously about the whole issue.


    John Cox Published on Mar 11, 2017
    Tribute to Bill Leak
    Thank you Andrew Bolt for this video on a man famous for not only his cartoons, but also his art work.

    metaculturex TV Published on Mar 9, 2017
    Bill Leak RIP 1956 – 2017
    Walkley Award (9 times) and Stanley Award (19 times) winner and editorial cartoonist Bill Leak died this morning, of a suspected heart attack, age 61. RIP to a great talent, sorely missed.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “It is an attack on the idea of common humanity and equality in law and administration. It repudiates Martin Luther King’s immortal appeal when he said he wanted his children “to not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”. Indeed, it reverses that template…” Don Brash was savaged for advocating equalilty under NZ law – “one people”.
      Identity politics is the insistence on sameness of difference – all Maori / LGBTI / women / people with mental health difficulties, are victims of wider society and need special privileges to make up for their common disadvantage. IMO this is bollocks. A homeless queer Maori man and a homeless cis-gendered white woman both need adequate affordable long-term shelter. A woman CEO with a range of well performing investments may be aware of times a man progressed faster, higher and got even richer, but she is not the same as a woman (or indeed a man) on sub-living wage who like the majority of people in any enterprise miss out on promotion.
      The real issues people have need to be addressed in an identity-blind way, and in the interests of efficiency the approach needs to be flexible enough to recognise that within every disadvantage-identity category “one size fits all” answers won’t do a good enough job.

  6. pb

    There’s a batch of talented Aussies of this era whom are trying to hand on the baton: Bill Leak, Barry Humphries (Dame Edna), Robert Hughes, Clive James. They are (or were) trying to use laughter to rip away the cloy of modernistic PC weapon grade language.

    We are the new counterculture.

  7. Elizabeth

    Harsher than his cartoon characterisations suggest. How glad am I that my father (farmer) didn’t stick to the ‘killer’ stereotypical male role model as seems to be suggested for Murray Ball, loved though Mr Ball most certainly was by his family.

    Gisborne Herald Fri, 17 Mar 2017
    via NZ Herald
    Kiwi cartoonist Murray Ball farewelled
    The life of iconic New Zealand cartoonist Murray Ball was celebrated in Gisborne today. Ball was the creator of the famous Footrot Flats cartoon strip, which was made into a movie in 1986. Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale was New Zealand’s first feature-length animated film. He died aged 78, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, at his home at Gisborne on Sunday. […] All walks of life from the Gisborne community were represented at the funeral. […] His daughter Tania Fowell said her dad had strong beliefs and principles. “And he was the enforcer. We soon learned to do what he said. […] He did not show much emotion, but she remembers sadness when the cat Horse died. “He was really sad – Horse was real, he was our cat. He really used to drag eels across the road from the creek.” […] Eldest son Mason said his dad was not funny “at all – in fact he was always very serious at home” – he had one standard joke he reeled out now and then, and did not get into chatting. “His idea of a chat was ‘so what are you going to do with your life? Where do you see yourself in the next seven years?’ – well that was the end of the chat.”
    Read more

    **** Last updated 20:17, Mar 17 2017
    Footrot Flats creator Murray Ball farewelled in Gisborne [+ Video]
    By Tommy Livingston
    The man behind the Footrot Flats cartoons has been farewelled “to the big paddock” in a moving funeral in his hometown of Gisborne. Cartoonist Murray Ball died aged 78 on Sunday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Little mention was made of Wal, Dog and his other famous cartoon characters. Instead, those who knew him best shared memories of the man behind the pen. […] His white casket sat with a stuffed-toy Dog on top, and a picture of Ball and his dog next to it. His favourite The Sound of Music tracks were played before the service – music which summed up the man … “The music you hear today in this place embodies his very essence, because he joyfully leaned towards the most life-affirming, even sentimental, of tunes.

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