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Mr Yeo created his ‘‘crying kiwi’’ cartoon in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, and the image went viral after striking a chord with New Zealanders devastated by the events.
Now, the cartoon has been appropriated in an anti-vaccination image being shared on social media.
The amended image shows a pair of crying kiwis captioned ‘‘Vaccinated’’ and ‘‘Non-Vaccinated’’, with a broken heart between them and a slogan below which said ‘‘This is NOT who we are’’.
Mr Yeo said he was alerted to it by upset supporters.
Soon after his original cartoon was released, Mr Yeo realised it had taken on a life of its own and people took ownership of it.
Not wanting to profit from the image, he released it under a creative commons licence, making it free for people to use.
He never imagined it would be appropriated for a political cause so removed from its tragic genesis, and had spent time in the past few days ‘‘soul searching’’ about whether the creative commons licence was the right choice.
‘‘I sat and thought about it for a bit and I thought ‘Well, I still would have done exactly that. I still would have given it away’.
‘‘I’m still really happy that it’s out there.’’
He said he did not want to give too much oxygen to those pushing an antivaccination message, but had a message for those upset by his cartoon’s hijacking.
‘‘Good on you for being upset. That means your heart is in the right place.
‘‘I think anyone with a proper moral compass would be upset about that image being used in that sort of way ... it’s a cartoon for everybody and it’s a cartoon for that tragedy.’’