Protesters Storm the Stage of the "Champion Canterbury Awards", Aotearoa/New Zealand

Solid Energy awards banner24 Sep 2004
About 20 protesters made quite a ruckus at Thursday's "Champion Canterbury Awards" in Christchurch.

Attendees to the awards, including Helen Clark and the Christchurch mayor, were greeted with drums, chants, heckles ('Why don't you get a real job?' was a favourite) and banners.

There were three key targets of the awards: Solid Energy for planning to decimate Happy Valley on the West Coast with their proposed Cyprus Mine; Crop & Food who are currently testing 'roundup-ready' GE onions; and the Cancer Society who spend a massive amount of their budget on vivisection.

Protesters dressed in $2-shop suits managed to get into the conference, despite the heavy police presence, enjoyed a few glasses of complimentary wine and stormed the stage just prior to the award ceremony beginning. They had ample time to chant, scream and explain what they were opposed to. They also carried a banner that read "Don't Award the Capitalist Hoard".

The police that were outside intimidating the protesters panicked and quickly turned to race inside but ran straight passed the three protesters as they casually made their own way out.

No arrests resulted, though numerous people were threatened.

Helen Clark was reported as saying that she thought she was in for a night of "Theatresports" before she realised it was "just the local anarchists".

The Christchurch Press reported the events in a couple of columns. They tried to defend themselves as the primary sponsors of the event but, instead, summed up the protesters standpoint with accuracy unusual in mainstream media.

"[The awards] are an unabashed celebration of the virtues of capitalism... A tiny band of protesters called themselves "anti-capitalists" ... deplored the honouring of those who "exploited" or made profits from the community, animals and the environment."

The protesters also staged their own "Corporate Backscratch Awards" outside, with awards like ‘eco-terrorist’ for Solid Energy, ‘bio-hazard’ for Crop and Food and ‘animal torture’ for the Cancer Society.

None of the camps were willing to accept their awards on the night, so were visited Friday morning where they were delighted to see the protesters again and gratefully accepted the awards.

More photos at http://indymedia.org.nz/newswire/display/21302/index.php