It’s time to vote for the 2018 Quote of the Year


Karen O'Leary, Taika Waititi, Rose Matafeo and Rhys Darby have all made the shortlist for 2018 Quote of the Year.


From the author of children’s book The Wonky Donkey, which had a second lease of life this year thanks to a viral video, to the Prime Minister’s appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, 2018 has been another year for interesting Kiwi quotes.

The 10 shortlisted finalists in Massey University’s annual Quote of the Year competition have been announced and the public has one week to vote for the best quip of 2018 at: http://bit.ly/QOTY2018

Massey University speech writing specialist and competition organiser Dr Heather Kavan says many of 2018’s nominated quotes were preoccupied with identity.

“The number of quotes related to New Zealanders’ identities was notable,” she says. “This included our racial identities, with quotes from Taika Waititi and Rose Matafeo, and how other countries perceive us, with quotes from the Prime Minister and Rhys Darby.”

The judging criteria includes attributes like wit, brevity, and vividness of the language, but, “essentially we were looking for quotes that people would want to hear again,” Dr Kavan says.

Dr Kavan, who was one of three judges who chose the shortlist, says the first quote agreed on by the judging panel was Craig Smith’s. The author’s quote was a response to the sales of his children’s book The Wonky Donkey skyrocketing after a video of a grandmother reading it went viral.

“For me, the quote sounded so innocent and cheerful in a year of brutal political manoeuvres and humiliating communications between MPs. It’s hard to feel hostile or anxious while thinking about Wonky Donkey.”

Quote of the year organiser Dr Heather Kavan.


Quotes can appeal for all different reasons

The other quotes appealed for a variety of reasons. Taika Waititi’s “as racist as f***” is “unguarded, heartfelt and controversial”, Dr Kavan says. She described Graeme Ball’s quote, “a little bit of a snafu”, as “catchy and nicely ironic, given that he said it in a discussion on accessible language” and says Officer O’Leary’s description of Officer Minogue on Wellington Paranormal appeals because of its deadpan delivery and parody of police reality shows.  

“It’s always hard to pick a winner, but I’m hoping Melanie Bracewell’s quote about Melania Trump will be popular,” Dr Kavan says. “The line is quick-witted and topical. Whenever Melania is in the news, it’s almost a public sport to look for signs that she secretly wants to escape from her husband.”

Dr Kavan began the annual Quote of the Year competition eight years ago as a way of celebrating New Zealanders’ best one-liners. Several countries now have similar competitions, although their quotes are more serious and the winners are decided by experts, rather than by popular appeal. 

The 2018 Quote of the Year finalists

  1. We’re quite a fiddly-looking shaped country – a bit like a half-eaten lamb chop.” Actor and comedian Rhys Darby speculating on why New Zealand is left off world maps, in a Tourism NZ video.
  1. "It's racist as f***. I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it's a racist place." Filmmaker Taika Waititi describing experiences of discrimination to Ruban Nielson.
  1. ''Wonky Donkey has had a good run for a donkey with three legs." Author Craig Smith after sales of his children’s book skyrocketed when a video of a grandmother reading it went viral. 
  1. "I do find it slightly offensive that everyone thinks that every New Zealander starred in either ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘The Hobbit’." Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern discussing Hobbiton on The Stephen Colbert Show.
  1. "I used to say, 'Mate, I don't really mind who turns up, just wear a name badge so I know who it is'." Former Prime Minister John Key on trying to keep up with who the latest Australian Prime Minister is.
  1. "Winston Peters spends a huge amount of time on me, on Paula Ben- Benefit- Bennett." National Party leader Simon Bridges’ slip of the tongue when referring to colleague Paula Bennett.
  1. “I don't know exactly what she said, but I know if you play it backwards it says ‘Help me!’" Comedian Melanie Bracewell when asked to recall Melania Trump's answer to a reporter's question, on ‘Have you been Paying Attention?’ 
  1. "It's so refreshing to see a straight white man not succeed in comedy right now." Comedian Rose Matafeo responding to British comedian Naz Osmanoglu’s jokes about her ethnicity.
  1. “A little bit of a snafu." Graeme Ball of the New Zealand History Teachers' Association describing the NZQA History exam where year 13 students were stumped by the word "trivial".
  1. "I think Minogue is an amazing partner, but perhaps sometimes his ideas don't align with actual rational thinking or any evidence or any intelligence." Officer O'Leary (actor Karen O'Leary) of Wellington Paranormal describing Officer Minogue.

Public voting is now open athttp://bit.ly/QOTY2018

Voting closes at midday on Wednesday December 12 and the winner will be announced on Thursday December 13.

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