Brockie: A memoir in words, cartoons and sketches
Bob Brockie’s memoir, Brockie: A Memoir in Words, Cartoons and Sketches, published by the NZ Cartoon Archive, was launched at the National Library on 26 February 2015, with over 200 friends, colleagues, cartoonists and cartoon aficionados attending.
A memoir with a difference. Through much of Bob Brockie’s long and colourful life – 80 plus years to date – he has kept a notebook and sketch pad beside him. In this charming book, Dr. Robert Brockie remembers – with some help from his diaries – all the highlights. The people (particularly women), places, pioneering scientific work and five decades of political cartooning. There is a strong emphasis on the sketches, portraits, caricatures and cartoons that Brockie is renowned for, but his varied and impressive scientific career is not forgotten.
Brockie’s life has encompassed editing and illustrating at School Publications, design concepts for Te Papa, DSIR’s ground-breaking Orongoronga Valley forest study, possum and hedgehog research, 40 years as National Business Review cartoonist, the writing of a number of books, and over 600 popular newspaper science columns.
Bob Brockie, who was born in Christchurch in 1932, 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. The degree completed, he left for Europe where his interest in caricature developed as he recorded the colour and novelty of Italian street scenes.
In Italy he contracted polio and for a period was a quadriplegic. The polio went into remission after his return to New Zealand, but today he is again in a wheelchair.
He has been editorial cartoonist for National Business Review continuously since 1975 and was twice QANTAS Cartoonist-of-the-Year
In his other life, Dr. Robert Brockie has been a highly respected scientist. He was a leading New Zealand authority on hedgehogs and possums and 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 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. Today, Brockie is still contributing, for the second decade, a popular weekly science column to Wellington’s Dominion-Post.
Bob Brockie received the NZ Association of Scientists’ Merit Award for Communications in 1999. In 2004 he was elected Companion of the Royal Society. In 2013 he became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to science and cartooning.