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NZ Quote of the Year finalists chosen

Monday, December 9, 2012
NZ Quote of the Year finalists chosen

From Maurice Williamson’s colourful support for the marriage equality bill to a widely shared quip about the GCSB on social media, it has been another good year for the witty one-liner.

The 10 shortlisted finalists in Massey’s annual Quote of the Year competition will now be put to a public vote.

As always, some the best quotes were comments on New Zealand society, including author James McNeish’s “In New Zealand nobody takes you seriously unless you make them yawn”.

Quotes from female artists, including New Zealand’s rising female stars Eleanor Catton and Lorde, also captured our imagination in 2013.

“Lorde’s ‘I’m not a spreadsheet with hair’ is powerful because it helps dispel the myth that it’s okay to judge people by their monetary value, rather than by their unique abilities,” says Massey’s speech writing specialist Dr Heather Kavan, who helped choose the shortlist. “I think this is a myth many people would love to see dispelled.”

Politicians featured prominently again, with seven different lines from Maurice William’s now-famous speech nominated.

“They were all great quotes and it was difficult to choose between them,” Dr Kavan says. “In the end we chose the gay rainbow quote because the speech became known as the gay rainbow speech.”

Dr Kavan says quotes from politicians tend to dominate the list because they get a lot of publicity.

“With some of the quotes, especially the ones in which Kim Dotcom and Winston Peters question the Prime Minister, there is also an element of pleasure at seeing someone in a superior position questioned,” she says.

Dr Kavan started the New Zealand Quote of the Year three years ago because she found her speech-writing students had trouble identifying memorable lines.

“The quotes I knew were too old for the students. Edmund Hilary’s “We knocked the bastard off” was said in 1953. Muldoon’s one-liner about Kiwis going to Australia “raising the IQ of both countries” and Lange’s “I can smell the uranium on your breath” quip were both said in the 1980s.

“I thought there must be some good contemporary New Zealand quotes, but no-one is collecting them.”

Dr Kavan and her judging panel narrowed down several dozen entries nominated throughout the year by Massey students and the general public to a top 10.

She describes the judging criteria: “Memorability is paramount. The gay rainbow line with its colourful imagery is a good example of this. However, many of the quotes appealed for different reasons. The GCSB one stood out because it was funny and most people can relate to having a frustrating experience with a government department.

“We were also keen to get quotes that were relatively spontaneous, such as Winston Peters’ ‘What didn’t he know and when didn’t he know it?’

“Another criterion was context. We chose ‘He’s an extraordinarily lucky cat’ because Moomoo’s story made international headlines and even the word ‘extraordinarily’ seemed like an understatement.”

Now, it is your chance to vote on what stuck in your mind or tickled your fancy this year.

To vote for the 2013 Quote of the Year, visit Massey University’s Facebook page: or

Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday December 19, with the winner announced on December 20.

The shortlisted finalists for the 2013 New Zealand Quote of the Year are:

If there was a dickhead that night, it was me – MP Aaron Gilmore reflecting on how he got intoxicated and called a waiter a 'Dickhead' at the Heritage Hotel in Hamner Springs.

Why are you going red, Prime Minister? – Kim Dotcom at the Parliamentary enquiry into the GCSB spying on New Zealand residents.
I'm not, why are you sweating? – Key's reply to Kim Dotcom.

The GCSB, the only government department that will actually listen to you – Unknown origin but repeated on social media.

Male writers tend to get asked what they think and women what they feel – Man Booker prize winning novelist, New Zealand's Eleanor Catton.

I'm not a spreadsheet with hair – Auckland singer/songwriter Lorde.

What didn’t he know and when didn’t he know it? – Winston Peters querying John Key’s knowledge of the Parliamentary Service’s actions.

In New Zealand nobody takes you seriously unless you can make them yawn – author James McNeish at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer – Gareth Morgan's Cats to Go campaign website.

He’s an extraordinarily lucky cat – Massey University veterinary surgeon Dr Jonathan Bray after removing a crossbow bolt from the head of Wainuiomata cat Moomoo.

One of the messages that I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought. Well, in the Pakuranga electorate this morning it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate – Cabinet minister Maurice Williamson in his speech to Parliament supporting the gay marriage law.


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