Long Live Pantograph Punch, Forever

The Pantograph Punch team reflect on 14 years of continuous publishing as a stalwart arts media journal (are we allowed to say this about ourselves?), and our choice to go on hiatus.

Earlier this month, after 14 years of keeping arts publishing pumping in Aotearoa, we announced that The Pantograph Punch was going on hiatus.

The outpouring of love we have received since our announcement has blown us away – each comment has touched our hearts as a stirring and compelling reminder of all that we stand for, all that should be celebrated about arts publishing and every reason why it deserves to be better protected and resourced, now and in the future. Arts publishing needs protection, so that everyone in our forest can do what we do to preserve and regenerate cultural and creative knowledge – the kind of knowledge our world needs better access to. So that we can weave together collective legacies that sow the seeds for the future of artists in this country, and to remind people to look to nature, art and stories to help envision the future. As Matariki Williams recently wrote for us, art is a salve. We take those words seriously.

'Rare footage of the editorial team' 22 April, 2016

L to R: Joe Nunweek, Kirsti Whalen-Stickley, unidentified, Adam Goodall, unidentified, Hayden Eastmond-Mein, Sam Brooks, unindentified

The struggles The Pantograph Punch has faced in its commitment to the vital space of arts publishing are not new, although they are systemic and heartbreaking. So many platforms like ours have faced precarity from day one, and have been run essentially for free, paid for by the voluntary and donated labour of writers, editors, artists and cultural workers. We’re lucky that after 14 years of running we’ve been able to pay our staff part-time salaries and pay our writers fees, thanks to committed funders. But all of us still work more days than our paid hours. The reality of our industry is an expectation to work for free, where organisational sustainability is a pipe dream and arts publishing falls through the cracks of the dwindling resources provided to creative arts and media in this country.

The reality of our industry is an expectation to work for free, where organisational sustainability is a pipe dream...

This crisis of resource is emblematic of the problems facing our industry, where exploitation – as Emma Ng wrote for our Pals testimonials – can sometimes feel ‘built in’. The work we do, the relationships we build, and the exchanges between artists and audiences that occur are taken for granted because the creative ecosystem isn’t genuinely valued by the hungry capitalist-colonial machine. Writers aren’t valued, nor is the time it takes them to research and craft slow, thoughtful responses to the world around them. Editors aren’t valued and neither are their skills in providing care and nourishment. Put plainly, what we bring to the community through deep, creative, responsive thinking and artistic identity-building isn’t protected by the current systems. We’ve seen firsthand how stretched and under-resourced our operations have been, and have always been. There is a demand and need for more platforms like The Pantograph Punch, yet the ecology is not actually built to allow this.

"Meri Kirihimete from the PP", 18 December 2017

L to R: Lucinda Bennett, Matariki Williams, Adam Goodall, Sarah Jane Barnett, Lana Lopesi and Kate Prior

A fractured funding environment exists as the status quo for arts publishing, with piecemeal solutions to a lack of operational sustainability. We tried our hardest to find and forge new pathways through the dual crises arts and media are facing. We called for help. And despite the crumbling infrastructure that made our jobs almost impossible, we found deep supporters and allies in our community. You all made the hardships worth it. But the love received is only a band-aid over the structural issues that we were being met with.

Hence our heartbreaking decision to go on hiatus, with chests full of pride (and bodies deserving of some rest).

'End of year work dinner', 15 Dec 2022.

L to R: Anastasia Burn, Faith Wilson, Nuanzhi Zheng, Van Mei, Sherry Zhang, Marie Shannon, Natasha Matila-Smith, Ataria Sharman

We are grateful for what we’ve been able to do. Thank you to our readers, writers, donors, funders and partners, who’ve always believed in us and continued to make room for platforms like ourselves to exist.

We urge everyone to read New Mirrors, a critical piece of research our co-founder Rosabel Tan and Dr James Wenley wrote, commissioned by Creative New Zealand, on the state of arts publishing in Aotearoa that holds hope in how we can collectively transform the future of the sector.

'The launch of Pantograph Punch's 2016 Events Season.'
15 June 2016

L to R: Rosabel Tan, Hayden Eastmond-Mein

Winding down operations as kaimahi is a bittersweet experience, and we recognise the fire in our bellies as a source of hope. We hope for more fights to value archives like ours and for arts publishing to be recognised for what it’s worth. We hope to see the overhaul of social systems (namely, colonial-capitalism) that have created the type of market unpredictability and precarity that has devastated sectors like ours. To that end, we hope our evolving legacy continues in the journey of arts publishing being truly led by the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi. There is already a proliferation of Māori-led lit journals that inspire us deeply, such as Bad Apple, Pūhia, Awa Wahine and Kupu Toi Takataapui.

Creative thinking is more than a source of entertainment and distraction, it is a way to challenge the colonial status quo. We hope that the arts themselves will break free from the shackles of power dominance, in the way that art helps to break us free from false paradigms. Mai te Awa ki te Moana: Free Aotearoa and Free Palestine. 

New Zealand Young Writer's Festival, 8 September 2017

The Pantograph Punch’s archives will serve as a reminder of the stories, learnings and histories that may otherwise be forgotten, cemented as a kind of protest and reaffirmation of the world we seek. Because what exists on the ‘fringes’ is the centre of many of our universes.

To end this letter, we’d like to say a big thank you to the people, more than we can list, who’ve kept us going throughout our unsteady path. To Matt, Joe and Rosabel for kickstarting our journey all those years ago, and every person the baton has been passed to since. Below are words from some of our loved ones, whānau and contributors across the years who’ve helped carry us.

With love, 

The Pantograph Punch


Long live arts publishing.

“I love that arts writing encourages deep thought and reflection. It gives space to the exploration of visionary, experimental, marginalised creatives and so many more ways to see and reshape the world.”

Aíne Kelly-Costello, writer

“This is such sad news. The Pantograph Punch holds a special place in my heart for publishing my work, and for amplifying my story collection about Filipinos at home and in the diaspora when I struggled to find coverage for it. When I was pursuing my creative writing doctorate as an international student in Pōneke, I read The Pantograph Punch to gain a better understanding of Aotearoa’s art scene. I continued to enjoy checking out the website long after I’d left Aotearoa, to keep abreast of the country’s exciting developments in the arts. Thank you for your service.”

– Monica Macansantos, fiction writer, essayist and critic

Pantograph Punch is where all the cool kids are, but the sort of cool kids who are big hearted and clever and nice to all the rest of the kids, who lend them great books and sneak them good media, then have deep midnight yarns about how messy and awful and beautiful the world is. I’ve learned so much from contributing to PP, and I’ve learned so much from reading it. Thanks for loving the longform, and creating a loving platform for some of the best writing and thinking in Aotearoa.”

– Erin Harrington, writer and academic

'Bad Refugee' talk in partnership with Auckland Arts Festival, 25 March 2019.

L to R: Panelists Leonard Bell, Golriz Ghahraman, Guled Mire and John Campbell.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear about the hiatus of The Pantograph Punch. Being able to celebrate its diamond-plus 13th anniversary from afar in 2023 was a really special virtual feeling and a sort of marker of personal time and ageing in the best way – seeing how it had changed and evolved, recognising how I as a person who’d been involved at the start had changed and evolved. This news creates a mirrored feeling of mortality – there is a great deal across the motu, and indeed across Te Tai-o-Rēhua, where I now live, that feels existential and precarious right now.

“What I and the other celebrants had to say nine months ago still sticks, and a capstone for now can’t alter that. The Pantograph Punch grew from an affectionate and ad-hoc place that tried to capture and mimic a world wide web of other anarchic Web 1.5 content creators into a compelling real-time document of Aotearoa arts and society. At its absolute best, it worked as a place for the people building that society to talk through their hopes, demands, fears and obsessions, and share something of themselves, argue up blueprints for what great local visual art, theatre, music and film should look like, and above all else let people know what’s up and what they should check out. That last part is really important – you can give young and emerging folks who want to get involved in arts a half-arsed gig guide full of ads and press releases, or you can give them something that makes a statement and seeks an argument. The latter has always been the most important.

“Lastly, I was so proud to see the Punch go down swinging in recent months where it really counted. The ongoing genocide in Gaza has been a real ‘kill yr idols’ moment for what I and other people expected from arts and literary publications and their patrons. It is easy, and even understandable, that outlets facing month-to-month viability would choose to stay quiet (particularly with the uncertainties a change in government brings). Instead, the gang used the platform to amplify the voices that weren’t getting a fair shout elsewhere right until the end.

“It is absolutely terrifying that this is happening at the same time that there’s a bonfire of journalism across Aotearoa with the loss of hundreds of livelihoods, but I took pride in seeing that PP’s pause has been mentioned alongside what’s going on at Newshub, TVNZ and many others. Without the work of Rosabel, Lana, Van and so many others, it would have been seen as a marginal curio that didn’t merit a headline. Instead, the announcement was a reminder that, more than ever, arts publishing is taken seriously, it is read, and its loss, temporary or otherwise, matters – whether or not there’s a climate that is prepared to fund the labour of making it.”

– Joe Nunweek, founding co-editor

The War Room, in partnership with Auckland Arts Festival, 8 March 2019.

“The systemic underfunding and inequities that continue to occur for arts publishers and writers signals not the end but an entirely new era. We should not have to fight to have our voices heard, but we will.”

– Jo Bragg, writer and artist

“Over the years, the Pantograph team has given me a true sense of what an arts and culture community could be and should feel like. Learning that things are coming to an end for now feels a wee bit like hearing about the passing of a beloved family member – an especially wise, funny, snappily dressed and, above all, kind-hearted aunty. I hope and trust there will be sufficient pūtea to keep the archive in place. It matters.

“These are crummy kupu dashed off while I try to focus on a piece of writing that is refusing to click into place. Thanks to Pantograph, I know that this struggle is perennial, but that I will manage it each time it arises.”

– Francis McWhannell, writer, editor, co-founder of Season Aotearoa

“In a sea of anti-arts rhetoric, racism and shitty opinions, Pantograph Punch has always been a bastion of aroha, celebration, integrity, curiosity and staunchness. As a former editor and staff writer at PP, I can say with my whole chest that I am made stronger today from the experiences I’ve had working with such a supportive and beautiful team of people who nudged me in the right directions, gently and with love. I appreciate all the work this amazing team has put into keeping arts criticism alive and afloat, and I hope that you all take this time to replenish, revive, and spend time on yourselves. This arts business can be gruelling, and this is evidence of the real toll it can take on the people working in this fragile industry. Take care and soothe those wee souls. All my love and care – until next time. Manuia, manuia.”

– Faith Wilson, writer, editor, founder of Saufo‘i Press

Critics in Residence at their final workshop, 17 Mar 2019.

L to R: Rae Longshaw-Park, Adam Goodall, Waveney Russ, India Essuah, George Fenwick.

“My time at The Pantograph Punch was only two years, where I moved from intern to theatre co-editor to staff writer, but felt like much more. I’ll remember my first interview forever – with Rosabel Tan, Hayden Donnell and Matt Hartnett – which took place somewhere in Ponsonby that I’m certain has now closed or rebranded. One of the questions they asked me, specifically referencing a deeply critical review of a play I had seen, was whether I would still write that kind of review. I eagerly said I would. (Nearly a decade later, I would adjust that answer: I would be that critical, but not quite that cruel.)

My time there ran the gamut. Some processes were an utter dream, with the digital ink flowing and the edits flowing just as easily. I’ve looked back at the work I made there, and some of those reviews are the best I’ve ever written, thanks to the amount of time everybody was able to devote to them. These reviews started robust conversations between myself and artists, and, more importantly, myself and audiences. I wouldn’t be the critic I am today without it.”

Sam Brooks, writer. Excerpt republished from ‘Some Thoughts on the Pantograph Punch’ in his Dramatic Pause newsletter

The #EatBalmoral food tour, photo by Kieran Scott. 22 June 2016

It’s not reported anywhere really, the arts. If you’ve got a decent pic you might get in the local rag, or a local celebrity in your cast might even get you in a weekly mag. But intelligent, in-depth commentary? Tumbleweeds. One of the only places I can think of is Pantograph Punch. Now there is another story, that Pantograph Punch is sadly taking a break – that our arts sector is in peril. Even if an organisation receives multi-year funding from Creative New Zealand, it doesn’t mean it is sustainable. Funding amounts haven’t increased for many organisations in over six years now, and we’re at a crisis point where brave decisions need to be made to pause, close or merge, and robust discussions need to occur around relevancy and sustainability. In many ways, Pantograph Punch is still leading the conversations we need to have.”

– Steph Walker, Director of Word Ōtautahi

I would like to express my deep thanks to you and your team. Your commitment to the arts and art writing is super-powered. I completely respect your collective decision to shut down the platform for the meantime. The hiatus only deepens my understanding of the critical nature of the situation. I know you will all find a way back."

“In recent months, New Zealand’s 2024 Venice Biennale Pavilion was called off for the first time since 2001, and CNZ’s overhaul resulted in several major cuts to publishers in real terms. As a writer, I know nearly every major lit journal in Aotearoa has gone fully digital or is now run on a volunteer basis. Starling magazine is still funded for a small editorial stipend, but Takahē just went fully digital. I was back home recently and was shocked by the economic conditions of the country.”

– Jessica Lim, writer

Pantograph Punch has served as a source of inspiration and information by being a core component for sharing diverse stories of creativity in Aotearoa. It is in sharing these stories that audiences can experience and understand diverse perspectives, as well as read stories of localised creativity that create ripples beyond boundaries of physical space and time. At its best, art publishing can create a multidisciplinary record of the possibilities and opportunities for navigating towards a future informed by imagination and possibility. Pantograph Punch has served in that role.”

– Jeremy Mayall, artist and advocate

Dunedin writer's workshop in partnership with Ōtepoti Writers Lab, led by Sherry Zhang and Mya Morrison-Middleton. 19 September 2023.
Photo: H-J Kilkelly.

The Next Page Cadetship, hosted by The Spinoff, North & South, NZ Geographic, Metro, and The Pantograph Punch.

L to R: Gabi Lardies, Tulia Thompson, Taualofa Totua.

Photo by Jinki Cambronero.

“A huge thank you to Pantograph Punch for partnering and supporting our online Pacific Arts Legacy Project, started during Covid. We loved the values and critical thinking by hundreds of creative voices around Aotearoa – published on the Pantograph Punch platform. This strong, inclusive, rich and varied kaupapa of voices is the key reason we wanted to join hands for our Pacific Arts Legacy Project with you. These legacy stories commissioned from Pasifika artists launched other voices and stories that provided space for Pasifika artists to share their own lived experiences with the world. The online legacy project has evolved into the Pacific Arts Aotearoa book, a partnership with Penguin New Zealand and Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts, that tells six decades of Pacific arts in Aotearoa.”

– Makerita Urale, artist and Senior Manager Pacific Arts at Creative New Zealand 

There's about a million other faces who've been involved that we haven't captured through photographic evidence. We hope you can sense them in spirit. Let’s not forget all of you who have shared your love with us across social media:

“Sad to lose Pantograph Punch, a high-quality, politically-minded and engaged, unique online journal. Diverse voices and points of view are disappearing from the NZ media ecosystem, especially in the arts.”
– Philip Matthews

“Losing Panto is such a blow to the creative community. It removes arts writing from the digital space (and alternative arts writing generally), shrinks the opportunities for writers to get paid, lessens opportunities for especially QPOC and women to develop their skill in … [It] impacts artists in that their work has fewer champions promoting, archiving and engaging with their practice. It’s altogether very sad and just another indicator of how fucked arts, lit and publishing are in this political and economic enviro.”
– Damien Levi

“Heartbroken at this news. Pantograph is not only one of our most cherished platforms for artists, but one of the very few (if only) NZ-based publications willing to speak truth to power in this time of genocidal violence against Palestinians. So much love to the amazing team.”
– Dylan Asafo

Pantograph Punch have been one of the few publications that take emerging artists seriously, giving them centre stage, support and paying them properly. I’m going to miss them.”
– Eamonn Marra

“This is a loss. The state of arts funding in Aotearoa is tragic and untenable.”
– Justine Sachs

“Devastating and very worrying (where will our voices be heard now?!) and completely understandable and that nagging feeling of ‘This is what they wanted …’ But how stupid of them, for we will rust only stronger. Ka nui āku mihi ki a koutou who have been holding it down for us through these perilous times. May you get oodles of rest, then bounce back reinvigorated in all sorts of exciting and unexpected places! ❤️‍🔥”
– Cassandra Darragh Barnett

“This is devastating news. Such an incredible space you have held for deep, insightful, urgent and vital voices in arts journalism and critical thinking. Thank you for all the mahi, and here’s hoping this hiatus is a temporary one. 💔”
– James Wilson

“😢 PP have been a much-needed critical cultural voice for us all.”
– Desna Whaanga-Schollum

“You will be missed, such an in-depth contribution to the arts you have given. All the best for the future to you all.”
– Séraphine Pick

“Ngā mihi maioha for all your team have done. It’s only mā te wā from us, we hope to see you later ❤”
– Māori Literature Trust

“Such a strong part of the arts culture here and a platform for many great new (and now established) writers. Thank you everyone involved. Wishing you all the good things.”
– Emily Perkins

“Will always be grateful for PP giving me the opportunity to cut my teeth as a writer and critic. This is a huge loss to the artistic community. Thank you for all the work. You will be greatly missed. Haere ra x.”
– Matthew Loveranes

“The voices and perspectives you’ve shared are of great value to our cultural landscape in Aotearoa, I hope for a reincarnation when the time is right – rest and come back stronger – we can’t lose you! Art writing / being living! ❤❤”
– Janine Randerson

“Much love to the PP team! I am so grateful to have written for you and to read your excellent articles! You will be missed!”
– HJ Banks

“Still thinking of this news – gonna be a huge hole in the industry, I’ve always looked forward to see what is being published & seeing diverse voices published. I hope the move forward is fulfilling & that the arts will continue to honor the changes you’ve made in the industry ❤️”
Gurleen Minhas

“It meant so much to me to write for you. I hope this is just goodbye for now. ❤❤❤”
– Eloise Callister-Baker

“Thank you for all your wonderful arts coverage over the years. It’s been wonderful working with your team. Wishing you all the best x.”
– Safia van der Zwan

“You’ve been an absolute beacon. Thank you so so much for all the thoughtful, considered work. Xxx”
– Frances Stachl

“PP important part of Aotearoa culture and our arts communities. You will be missed. Hoping it’s just a little rest and then hope to see you again. Mauri ora.”
Maree Sheehan

“Thank you for Artist in Residence, it got me through some dark times 💜😔”
– Kimmy Mo

“The pieces published by PP [have] given me so much as a reader, and artist. I have deep respect and gratitude for all that has been shared, it has been invaluable.”
– Eloise Pengelly

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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