Every publication has to have one.
Newspapers and television stations have political polls, the
National Business Review has the Rich List, the
Listener has the Power List and now there's
Reader's Digest with its Most Trusted Survey.
The popularity of the NBR list is understandable
enough - it's driven partly by envy, partly by secret
We just love reading about those who've made heaps of money
and learning how they've done it.
The Listener Power List is a designer accessory, the
function of which is to make the magazine appear more
substantial and important than it actually is. Power by
association, which is astute marketing because much as we
like money we also like to know who the great movers and
shakers of the small world we live in are - and to argue the
toss over their relative merits.
Then there are newspapers and television with their political
polls which, if you were to believe the Reader's
Digest Most Trusted list, you wouldn't give the time of
After all, it's a poll of politicians (39th least trusted of
40 listed occupations) published by journalists - who come in
at 34th, an inch ahead of astrologers, real estate agents,
sex workers, car salesmen, the aforementioned politicians and
Not exactly a swooning recommendation.
But then perhaps such surveys aren't either.
Reader's Digest commissioned an independent research firm to
survey a representative sample of 500 New Zealand adults.
Let's just hope they didn't do it by phone - because we now
know, that as trust goes, you can't go any lower than
The Most Trusted survey asked respondents about three
categories: individuals, professions and brands.
Top of the list of most trusted individuals, replacing Sir
Edmund Hillary, is Corporal William Apiata of Victoria Cross
Hard on his heels is Peter Snell, athlete, followed by Colin
Meads and six other sports people in the top ten.
The sporting monopoly is broken only by children's author
Margaret Mahy and celebrity cookery writer Alison Holst.
Good old sure-to-rise herself.
Cuddly filmmaker Peter Jackson is right up there at 14, while
Queen Elizabeth ties with Richie McCaw at 20th equal just
ahead of food-in-a-minute merchant Allyson Gofton and Hayley
At number 50, the top legal bod in the state bureaucracy,
solicitor-general David Collins, must be wondering where he
Still, he's a couple of places ahead of Mr Pip author Lloyd
Jones (there's something slightly dodgy about writers, don't
you think?) who can console himself being four places ahead
of his brother, Sir Bob (property investment has gone off the
That's the thing about lists like this; there's always
someone worse off than you, so Helen Clark, despite the
terrible poll results - that none of us henceforth is going
to take any notice of for the aforementioned reasons - can
take comfort from the fact that at 66 she beats David Bain
(67), John Key (68), Pita Sharples (75) and Winston Peters
Unless of course you are number 85 on a list of 85, in which
case the revelation that convicted murderer Scott Watson (84)
and Maori activist Tame Iti (83) are more trusted must come
as a sobering revelation to someone like former assistant
police commissioner Clint Rickards.
Firefighters, ambulance officers and pilots are our most
trusted professionals, while judges, at 10, just edge out
dentists and police officers at 11th equal.
Lawyers hold their own with bartenders at 27th equal and then
we're almost into the dregs - you know, ratbags such as
journalists, sex workers, and car salesmen.
It's when we come to the brands section of the survey that we
begin to complete the picture of the Reader's Digest
We already know soldiers and sports people are rated most
highly trusted, followed by celebrity chefs.
Firefighters and ambulance drivers and pilots are right up
Now add in the brands: Cadbury is tops followed by Tip Top,
then Fisher and Paykel, Panadol and Sony just ahead of Heinz
Watties, Sanitarium, Griffins, Nestle and Colgate.
Conjures up quite a picture: we trust (and like) men in
uniform, sportsmen and women, and plain good old-fashioned
food prepared very quickly (combining the best attributes of
Holst and Gofton), which could involve variations on a theme
of Weetbix, baked beans, Griffins biscuits, chocolate and a
good helping of ice cream softened in the Sony microwave
washed down by a cup of Nestle drinking chocolate.
The dishes will be placed in the Fisher and Paykel
And before venturing out you will probably brush your teeth
with Colgate toothpaste.
Oh, and if it's all too much and you can feel a headache
coming on, a couple of tabs of Panadol - trust me, I'm a
journalist - will do the trick just nicely.
Simon Cunliffe is assistant editor at the Otago Daily