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An Open Letter to the Health Sponsorship Council

Filed under: General — Darryl Ward @ 10:34 am Tue 7th February 2012

Dear Health Sponsorship Council

Positive Men has been established to promote the use of positive imagery of men and masculinity in the media in Aotearoa New Zealand. For far too long men have been demonised and portrayed as abusers. A rare positive portrayal was going to occur when All Black Piri Weepu was going to be shown feeding his daughter in a Health Sponsorship Council anti smoking advertisement, but the Council was bullied by breastfeeding advocates La Leche League and the Midwifery Council into censoring this footage.

We argue this was outrageous. We all know breast is better than bottle. We probably even know it better than it is bad to smoke. However we rarely see or hear any positive portrayals of men and we argue the benefits of retaining the censored footage of Piri feeding his daughter more than outweighs any potential risk.

We call on the Health Sponsorship Council to reinstate the censored footage into its advertisements.

Yours faithfully

Darryl Ward
Spokesperson of Positive Men

Go here to join Positive Men:

Go here to send your own message to the Health Sponsorship Council:


  1. Thanks for the link. I posted the following inquiry to HSC:

    “I did not realise that your organisation was so extremely anti-father.
    Can you please tell me how many times has your organisation consulted a father’s group before publishing an advertisement?”

    Comment by Vman — Tue 7th February 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  2. Guys get on board. Please post lots of feed back directly and indirectly to HSC, LLL and every else this issue is raised. I posted on news sites and other blogs to draw people’s attention to the anti-father aspects.

    This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of how hostile towards fathering NZ society has become.

    Comment by Vman — Tue 7th February 2012 @ 6:17 pm

  3. My email to the HSC:

    I represent the Ministry of Men’s Affairs, a NZ group formed to highlight men’s issues and misandry in our society. On behalf of the Ministry I express gratitude that your organisation made an advertisement showing a father in a positive light, gently nurturing a baby. Unfortunately, I also express regret that your organisation has caved in to special interest groups (that also happen to consist mainly of women) objecting to the advertisement.

    I recall recently that women’s groups objected equally loudly and successfully to an advertisement for tampons. They complained that the advertisement discriminated against women who could not have periods. (Some transgendered groups also complained on similar grounds.) Your decision to remove your advertisement of Piri Weepu colludes with and amounts to discrimination against all fathers and other parents who cannot breastfeed.

    While we applaud your efforts to discourage smoking, we would remind you of the developmental damage caused to hundreds of thousands of NZ children whose fathers have been degraded and/or driven out of their lives through misandry in legislation, Courts and social policies. The suffering of those children is life-long and arguably as significant as anything caused by smoking. We would applaud a reversal of your decision and a return to your previously responsible message that fathers as parents are nurturing (even if their role cannot be exactly the same as that of breastfeeding mothers).

    Comment by Hans Laven — Tue 7th February 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  4. Hi Darryl, please excuse me posting directly onto the forum.
    I am editor of The Natural Parent Magazine here in New Zealand and I believe we shared a front page today.
    We were deeply unhappy to see claims of discrimination against fathers being laid at our door, claims that are wholly untrue. We are concerned about the impact this will have on the fathers that presently use our services. If they take it as read they could well turn away from TNP and yet another resource will be closed to fathers who want to maintain their bond and connection with their children.
    Please get in touch at your earliest convenience.
    Nadine Gaunt
    Editor – The Natural Parent Magazine

    Comment by Nadine Gaunt — Wed 8th February 2012 @ 9:38 am

  5. Nadine Gaunt (#4): According to the NZ Herald you dumped writer Wendyl Nissen because she spoke out on Campbell Live calling for fathers’ role to be valued as nurturers of children including by bottle feeding them. You were then quoted as claiming that your dismissal of Ms Nissen “was in “no way” connected to the issues surrounding feeding and bonding of father and child”, but in further quotes you claimed that you had received “dozens” of messages supporting breast-feeding including “Distraught mothers told us how they were being [sought] out for criticism and condemnation for their perceived views on Piri and bottle-feeding in general. This was further exacerbated by Wendyl’s stance.” According to you “It was then deemed appropriate for The Natural Parent magazine and Wendyl to pursue their individual paths.”

    I doubt that any mothers were ever “sought out for critism” because of their views on Piri and/or bottle feeding. This sounded to me like a dishonest excuse to try to justify your dismissal of someone prepared to speak in support of fathers’ role. The fact that you tried to deny the dismissal was related to the issue of fathers feeding their children then offered an explanation that was entirely related to that issue also suggested your duplicity.

    You as editor deemed it appropriate, not “it was deemed”, to part ways with someone because she spoke up for fathers’ parenting role. Take responsibility for your decision and tell the truth. You appear to have sided with groups consisting mainly of women who placed their own hobby horse ahead of a greater social good by demanding that men’s only way of feeding children be censored from public view. These groups were criticized for their disrespectful attitude to fathers, and yes, the groups will have included mothers but it was misleading for you to portray this as “distraught mothers” being picked on due to anything Ms Nissen did or said.

    Given your stance and lame excuses, I doubt that your magazine would show much insight into men’s issues or offer much help to fathers.

    Comment by Hans Laven — Wed 8th February 2012 @ 7:55 pm

  6. My post to HSC:

    I did not realise that your organisation was so extremely anti-father.
    Can you please tell me how many times has your organisation consulted a
    father’s group before publishing an advertisement?

    Response from HSC:

    Thank you for taking the time to write to us.
    As part of a standard post-production process we identified the (two-second) bottle-feeding shot as one for possible re-editing two weeks ago.  As a result we asked for 
    comment from La Leche League NZ and Plunket NZ as well as others who we saw as experts in breastfeeding.  After receiving feedback a decision was made last Wednesday (1 February) to replace the shot with one that continues to show Piri in his role as a loving father, providing a smokefree home and car for his whanau. 

    Smoking Not Our Future is a youth campaign, so we mainly seek feedback from 12-24 year olds, but we will seek expert advice when necessary. 
    The advert will go to air Sunday 12 February as planned.

    Susie Robertson
    Manager – Youth
    Auahi Kore/Smokefree
    email: [email protected]

    My reply to HSC:

    Hi Susie,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply. Unfortunately you did not reply to my question.
    My question was:

    Can you please tell me how many times has your organisation consulted a
    father’s group before publishing an advertisement?
    You did not answer my question.

    Could you please answer my question.

    Thank you in advance.



    Response rom HSC:

    Hi …

    The HSC is a crown entity that promotes health and encourages healthy lifestyles. To do this we use the principles and practices of public health, health promotion and communication, and social marketing.

    As you are aware, one part of this work can include producing television commercials to deliver our messages to target audiences. When we are producing ads it is not uncommon for us to either consult with other experts within the health sector or undertake concept testing with the target group.

    As far as I am aware, in the past we have not specifically approached fathers’ groups to comment on our commercials, primarily because, as in this most recent case, fathers’ groups have not been a specific target audience for our messages. However, fathers (and mothers) have been involved in the past with concept testing, particularly when we are interested in getting feedback from parents.

    While one two-second shot was removed from the new Smoking Not Our Future commercial we believe we have replaced it with a shot that is equally demonstrative of the vital, loving role that fathers play in their children’s lives. In fact, the complete ‘Piri’ segment of the ad provides a number of powerful images that support Piri’s message that a smokefree home and car are really important to him as he provides a healthy, nurturing environment for his daughters to grow up in.


    Susie Robertson
    Manager – Youth
    Auahi Kore/Smokefree
    Level 3,  181 Wakefield Street
    PO Box 2142   Wellington 6140 
    email: [email protected]

    Comment by Vman — Wed 8th February 2012 @ 9:05 pm

  7. In today’s New Zealand Herald: DADS – Send us a pic of you and your baby at feed-time: [email protected]

    Comment by Darryl Ward — Thu 9th February 2012 @ 8:09 am

  8. Kiaora e Naudine

    Thank you for your comment.

    While I am not familiar with ‘The Natural Parent Magazine’, one thing working in publishing has taught me is that there are literally tens of thousands of titles out there – and that is just in Aotearoa New Zealand – and one finds a new one every other day.

    However, it is not correct to say we were laying accusations at your door. Our media release, which was partially quoted, singled out the La Leche League and the Midwifery Council. We never mentioned you.

    Unfortunately you have left no contact details, so I will have to try to find you via Google.

    We would be delighted to help you promote a more gender inclusive approach to parenting if that is your objective.

    Naku noa
    Na Darryl

    Comment by Darryl Ward — Thu 9th February 2012 @ 8:50 am

  9. Excellent opinion piece from Darrell Carlin in today’s Herald:

    Comment by Darryl Ward — Fri 10th February 2012 @ 9:31 am

  10. Hi Daryl, unfortunately your information comes from the media rather than the horses mouth.
    I can see how you have read divisiveness and untruths into what you have read, and given the media spin on it i dont suppose i should be surprised. The facts are clear and simple. Our inexperience and innocence of the media did us a disservice because we had no idea our inclusive, homely publication would be used to create headlines in this way.
    Wendyl and I had an email conversation about the reasons behind us parting ways, she is in no doubt as to the exact reasons behind our decision, and hasn’t been right from the very first instance. The twist that was put on it by the Herald and Campbell Live floored us. Maybe a professional journalist could have seen that coming but we sure as heck didn’t. We have released a statement about it laying it out clearly and factually. Omissions were then made in its broadcast which gave it the appearance of a certain bias. This was certainly not the case.
    We have never disparaged or diminished a fathers role. It blew us out of the water, as it goes against our core beliefs. Our reasons were wholly unrelated to a positive/negative father role model and the worst we can be accused of is naivety in not seeing what how much more valuable the publicity would be to them when a more sensational and wholly untrue spin had been put on it.
    We have never allowed stereotyping on our boards or in our publications. No ‘typical man’ or any of that stuff is allowed. As we aren’t exactly mainstream the issues surrounding gender and roles are important to our families.Its the type of people we represent, they look at things holistically and fathers are valued and respected as much as mothers Have a look. If someone posts a derogatory remark about ‘men’ or ‘fathers’ on our board it is addressed by the admins, we don’t even let the little things slide. So you can imagine what is was like when the bomb dropped in our laps. Not only was it untrue, it was no different to saying we had attacked mothers.
    Fathers had been hurt by the insinuations in the media and we had been untruthfully linked with that. We talked about the issues and decided outside guidance from someone in the field would be beneficial. Not to improve our image in some covert way, but to help fathers have their voice heard by the families we reach.
    We have repeatedly asked for fathers to join the team and direct us in how we may best serve their interests but the response has been minimal. We have tried to find a way to connect fathers and build the same sort of support groups the mothers are finding such a help but to no avail. In contacting you we have tried again to get fathers to guide other fathers, but clearly to no avail.
    Our magazine is mostly distributed for free (overseas subs etc pay), we are all volunteers, there is no company agenda. We are not professional journalists. We are all amateurs, and purely in it for the families we support, but now with a more cynical view of the media and our vulnerability to it.
    The Natural Parent Magazine distributes 120,000 copies a year throughout New Zealand. The extract from Wendyl’s book was provided at no charge in exchange for promotion in our magazine and through our social media outlets.

    We were pleased to be part of this mutually benficial relationship however we were disappointed at Wendyls comments on national television when she said:

    “Is it offensive to see a man feeding a baby. Is that the problem. Do women have the exclusive right on feeding babies? That’s what La Leche (sic) are saying basically aren’t they?”
    “….we’re over the days where woman are just seen as dairy cows and that’s all they do.”

    We felt Wendyl’s comments were innappropriate and not consistent with our own philosophy – which is to be inclusive of ALL mothers and fathers regardless of how their baby is fed.

    We are 100% behind Piri Weepu’s choice to feed his daughter as he sees fit. Our discontinued relationship with Wendyl Nissen was no reflection on the father-child relationship. We have as much admiration for Piri Weepu as any other New Zealander.

    We felt Wendyl singling out La Leche League (A voluntary not for profit organisation) to be counterproductive to all parents. This type of misrepresentation works to further the divide between breast and formula feeding families and is something The Natural Parent Magazine works very hard to bridge.

    There is no animosity towards Wendyl, she has done some sterling work and we do not assert that she is in any way ‘Anti-breastfeeding’. We wish her all the best, but right now we are working on slightly different ways to support our community.

    Comment by Nadine Gaunt — Fri 10th February 2012 @ 10:53 am

  11. sorry Darryl, i misread the names on the posts above.
    my sincere apologies, i think i need a cup of coffee and 10 minutes away from the keyboard.
    the allegations were laid by the media, we supported your comments and thats why we felt it appropriate to get in touch

    Comment by Nadine Gaunt — Fri 10th February 2012 @ 1:06 pm

  12. It’s a funny moment in history. Good on NZHerald for finding a mother who has been condemned for bottle feeding. That hit the message home for me.

    I guess it’s about a message and groups being welcomed to give their opinion. Whether others disagree with their opinion comes down to lobbying in this day and age. Perhaps men can do better than women at lobbying but can they do better at taking care of children? IMO, it not about doing better but whether men want the role of taking care of children as women have in the past just like men taking care of house cleaning and women get out and gardening, helping fix and paint the fences, and house itself etc. After all, it’s about working together but then men and women must want each other in their lives more. They can;t play roles but share each other’s space.

    Comment by Julie — Fri 10th February 2012 @ 9:55 pm

  13. I gather everyone is experiencing the same infux of Indian culture as me when it comes to clients though I know I am behind the potter’s lol. I can only accept research is ahead of the ground.

    Comment by Julie — Fri 10th February 2012 @ 10:07 pm

  14. I just want to say that what you do is none of my business. I don’t care anymore.

    Comment by Julie — Fri 10th February 2012 @ 10:28 pm

  15. OMG…!!! what a lot of brouhaha! Breast is best – no doubt at all, but…
    It is inevitable that many couples will have to use alternatives to breast, so it is rediculous that a government policy insists on exclusive breast for first six months, i see although their campaigns have improved the numbers, still only 14% achieve this.
    What is most interesting is the response from Lynda williams – describing a hostile culture against breastfeeding, how incredible that her crazy claims of alternative views to her own preferance and absolutist dogmas have created a negative response…!
    Also intresting is that the midwifery council and la leche have released press statements supporting fathers involvement in feeding and nurturing babies, even supporting mothers… where is Plunket – the many millions backed main propoganda mechanism of the govt amd ministry of women only parents – how long can they hide? Are they still anti-male or is it just fathers who they object to – their bnz ads on TV are ridiculous.

    Comment by NZ Dad — Sat 11th February 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  16. Yes exactly what I was thinking – where is Plunket? They also objected to pictures of a father feeding his baby on TV.

    Comment by Vman — Sat 11th February 2012 @ 9:19 pm

  17. Julie, What ever else you do don’t give up. As Winston Churchill said, “We Shall fight them on the beaches …. etc” to “WE SHALL NEVER SURRENDER”

    Keep at it girl take a rest and come back fighting again.

    Comment by Gwaihir — Sat 11th February 2012 @ 9:20 pm

  18. It is a pity that these are the last words Julie wrote. I wonder if she is out of Hospital yet? In JOr has she been ulie men have lost one of their staunchest supporters! What is the Indian culture? or is she turning to the dark side! –

    Comment by Gwahir — Thu 22nd November 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  19. #18..8 mths to respond..really?..i think it was you in hospital

    Comment by Ford — Thu 22nd November 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  20. Yes I understand Julie is currently in Hospital. Was going in on 18th I assume.
    Get well soon.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Thu 22nd November 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  21. I hope those she destroyed herself trying to help remember her now that she needs support.

    Comment by Gwahir — Thu 22nd November 2012 @ 5:26 pm

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