David Henshaw was a New Zealand farming icon. After 40 years of communicating to the farming industry through his cartoons, his main character “Jock” has become an instantly recognised national treasure.
David was born at Kimbolton in 1939 and reared on the family’s 600 ha farm. He attended Palmerston North Boys’ High School where his artistic bent was soon recognised and encouraged. On leaving school he did a one-year Sheep Farming Diploma at Massey and then moved to Lincoln to complete the two-year Diploma in Valuation and Farm Management.
His Valuation career took him to Wellington, Palmerston North, Hokitika, Te Kuiti and finally to the Waikato where he lived, supposedly in semi-retirement. But “Jock” was still hard at it, commenting on the state of farming and the entire spectrum of rural life.
David’s “Jock” cartoons have appeared in the “New Zealand Farmer” for 34 years under famous editors - Ron Vine, Boyd Wilson, Neil Rennie, and Hugh Stringleman. David never had a contract with the Farmer but “Jock” always delivered, based on the shake of a hand and mutual trust that never failed. Boyd Wilson said that he suspected farmers bought the Farmer for the recent stock prices and the Jock cartoon!
David has also done the “Jock calendar” for the past 14 years and its popularity continued to grow in both rural and urban areas. To be able to sustain a cartooning career for this length of time, David showed an outstanding knowledge and appreciation of farming and rural life – especially of the people on the land.
The task requires a dedication and love of farming and farming folk, far beyond the call of the average journalist. A cartoonist’s message has to be instant, and has to communicate the message in a minimum number of pencil strokes, so it has rapid recognition otherwise it fails. David Henshaw’s work always met the highest standard and delighted, informed, and touched raw nerves when needed.