Dr Robert Brockie

Bob Brockie

Bob Brockie became National Business Review’s first cartoonist in April 1975 – and he’s still producing his incisive, often cutting-to-the-quick, cartoons. Brockie, who admits to the influence of Ronald Searle, Saul Steinberg and NZ’s Russell Clark, drew whimsical illustrations and cartoons for Salient, Victoria University’s student newspaper, and successive capping magazines, while he studied for a zoology degree in the 1950s.

He has twice been Qantas Cartoonist-of-the Year. From 2000-05 he was a member of the NZ Cartoon Archive Trust, and is currently on the Guardians of the NZ Cartoon Archive committee.

In his other life, l, Dr. Robert Brockie has been a highly respected scientist. He was a leading New Zealand authority on hedgehogs and possums, the latter work particularly important in terms of native forest destruction and spread of TB to cattle herds. Between 1976-82 he led the DSIR team involved in a 25-year study of the Orongorongo Valley in the Rimutaka State Forest Park – the birds, animals, trees and plants from canopy to forest floor. His 1992 book, A Living New Zealand Forest, about the study was a landmark venture internationally, his illustrations and unique charts making the book accessible to the general reader.

His eclectic list of other publications range from the biology of Hawke’s Bay farmland possums to cartoon collections and includes a guide to the plants and animals of NZ cities and towns.

The popularisation of science has been a particular feature of Brockie’s work. Early in his career he worked in the School Publications Branch of the Department of Education as an illustrator with a particular interest in developing age-suitable scientific content for school journals and other publications. Today, Brockie is still contributing, for the second decade, a popular weekly science column to Wellington’s Dominion Post.

In 1999, while Bob Brockie was at the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University, he received the NZ Association of Scientists’ Merit Award for Communications. In 2004 he was elected Companion of the Royal Society. In 2013 he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to science and cartooning.