The Roger Award

Friday 24 May 2019

Canterbury Museum recently acquired the Roger Award trophy from the Christchurch-based Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA).

Roger Trophy

The Roger Award trophy is a satirical reflection of the characteristics for which it was awarded. Canterbury Museum 2020.17.1

The Roger Award was named after former Minister of Finance Roger Douglas, who oversaw radical economic reforms in the 1980s. Each year between 1997 and 2016, CAFCA gave the award to the “worst transnational corporation operating in Aotearoa New Zealand”. The award garnered national press coverage and became an embarrassment for the businesses that it was awarded to, which included ANZ, BNZ, TranzRail, and Rio Tinto Alto. Unsurprisingly, none of them were interested in actually receiving the trophy!

The trophy itself is a satirical reflection of the characteristics for which it was awarded. It includes a bullet representing dangerous business practices; a hypodermic needle representing irresponsible use of chemicals; a dollar note representing unscrupulous profiteering; and of course a globe representing the multinational role of the businesses to whom it was awarded.

The Roger Award was New Zealand’s very own version of a tongue-in-cheek, subversive phenomenon seen the world over: the anti-award. More famous examples include the Golden Raspberry Awards for the year’s worst movies; the Darwin Awards for death or injury caused by stupidity; and the Ig Nobel Awards for unusual or improbable scientific research projects.

 Dan Stirland, Curator Human History, says the award represented an opportunity for the Museum to collect something unusual, anti-establishment and counter-cultural, but with local and national significance.

"It is perhaps not the kind of treasure you’d usually expect to see in a museum, but we believe it reflects an important aspect of modern society," he says.

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