The Roger Award just gets bigger and better
- Murray Horton
The event to announce the winner (and other prizegetters) of the 2002 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand, was held in Auckland on the night of Friday May 2. The 2001 Award event had been held outdoors in downtown Auckland, but steady rain drove this one indoors (and the hall proved to be an authentically Auckland leaky building).
Christchurch hosted the first three Roger events, then it moved north to Wellington for the 2000 Award, and Auckland for the last two. These latter three events have been models of entertainment, political theatre and professionalism. They just keep getting bigger and better. Speaking as an attendee (and participant) of all three North Island events, theyre a bloody lot of fun.
Anywhere from 70-100 people had a great time at the latest one. The event organisers George Baxter, Jim Gladwin, Sigrid Shayer, Chris Barry and Marcus Graf deserve the deepest thanks from all those who attended and from both CAFCA and GATT Watchdog (who organise the whole Award). Its a nerve wracking and thankless job putting together such a high quality programme on a shoestring (CAFCA put up the grand sum of $500). The whole evening was themed around transnational corporations in general and the Roger in particular (the organisers had learned from the previous years event, which was too long and more loosely focused).
Every single one of the entertainers did it for love (or, more properly, hate of the TNCs). Michele ACourt, actor and comedian, did an excellent job as the MC. She got a laugh from the Aucklanders by saying that Sukhi Turner, one of the Award judges and Mayor of Dunedin, couldnt be there because it wasnt cold enough (never mind, it was wet enough, inside and out). Following a Maori welcome (a first for the Roger event), the wonderfully named Rectify The Anomaly bush band (that name would be perfect for a Viagra ad), including event organisers, George Baxter and Jim Gladwin, got the evening off to a ripsnorting start. The other musicians to perform were: Andrea Tunks, Roger Greenaway, Maria Fossetti, Franko, Jeremy Elwood and Luke Hurley. Some of the singing was exquisitely beautiful, bringing tears to the eyes; other songs directed popular wrath at Big Business.
The evening also featured two performances. The GE Free Street Theatre did a splendid skit (in honour of Novartis being one of the finalists). My favourite character was the villainous capitalist whose one line, oft repeated, was "Ha,ha, ha,ha ha, Im so evil". He was too, the bastard. And the CELL Collective specially produced a wonderful video for the evening, giving the finalists a unique, cinematic, one over not so lightly. Nobody who saw it will ever forget the Carter Holt Harvey character literally talking shit.
I spoke, on behalf of the Award organisers. It seemed to be well received, although a number in the audience seemed to have gone into shock at seeing me sans hair and beard for the first time ever (I struggled to recognise myself at first, too). John Minto, one of the judges, delivered the verdict with all the moral zeal of the lapsed Catholic. Im sure Judge John was the Inquisitor General in a past life. He said that most award ceremonies start at the bottom and work to the top. "But the Roger Award starts at the bottom and works down". He referred to the finalists as "scumbags" and to Fay Richwhite (who did rather nicely out of their purchase and sale of TranzRail) as "boils on the backside of humanity". Its the second consecutive year that John has performed this task and hes a natural at it (Ranginui Walker, the other Auckland judge, was present because he was wearing a cap, Michele ACourt apologised for mistaking him for Tiger Woods). This was the sixth Roger Award event and they just keep on getting stronger. We must be doing something right.
As he did last year, Alan Marston of PlaNet TV filmed the whole thing (the resulting 30 minute documentary, "A Bad Business", screened on Auckland regional channel, Triangle TV, on May 12). Copies can be bought from PlaNet, Box 6594, Auckland 1036 at $19 for the videotape or $9 for the CD.
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