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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 of 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 the line she wishes she’d said herself was one by Maurice Williamson that, unfortunately, didn’t make the shortlist: “I also had a letter telling me that I would burn in the fires of eternity, and that was a bad mistake, because I’ve got a degree in physics.”
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 http://masseyuni.wufoo.eu/forms/quote-of-the-year-2013/ or via our Facebook page here.
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:
Created: 09/12/2013 | Last updated: 10/12/2013
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