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2015 Quote of the Year finalists announced

2015 finalists include quotes from All Black coach Steve Hansen, broadcaster John Campbell, high school student Jake Bailey and Bachelor Art Green.

To vote for the 2015 Quote of the year go to: http://bit.ly/2015quote

From John Campbell’s heartfelt farewell on his last Campbell Live broadcast, to the words the Prime Minister apparently said just before yanking a waitress’ ponytail, it has been another fertile year for the memorable quote.

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

Competition organiser and judge Dr Heather Kavan says 2015’s list is notable for not being dominated by politicians.

“Last year’s list was dominated by insults, gaffes, and dirty politics,” notes the Massey University speech writing specialist.

“This year there was a shift away from political rhetoric to some very human moments – John Campbell recalling wearing a suit borrowed from his Dad on his first day at work and high school student Jake Bailey speaking bravely in the wake of devastating news about his health.

Dr Kavan says incidents like a waitress’ disquiet as the Prime Minister signals he’s about to pull her ponytail, Joe Irvine reaching out to the public after being bullied on the X Factor, and Poppy Salter’s embarrassment at passing wind on her televised first date are far different to those found on 2014’s election-year list.

“Some of the quotes are funny, but there’s also a lot of pathos here too,” she says.


Former All Black Eric Rush's speech at Jonah Lomu's memorial service.

2015 was the year of rugby

Rugby was also foremost in many Kiwis’ minds this year because of the Rugby World Cup and the recent death of rugby great Jonah Lomu.

“The Eric Rush quote was an eleventh hour entry as his tribute to Jonah took place the day nominations were closing. We also received several entries of quotes by Steve Hansen in the preceding weeks,” Dr Kavan says.

“One that almost made it onto the list was Hansen’s response to the question of whether he’d been concerned at any point during the World Cup final – ‘I’ve always said worry is a wasted emotion’. Another was his comment about Springboks coach Heyneke Meyner – ‘He has been praising us all week. But I bet they are getting ready to rip our heads off’.”

Speech writing lecturer Dr Heather Kavan.

Expert says Queen's Counsel's quote is "masterful"

Dr Kavan believes, like last year, there will be several quotes that will remain “neck-and-neck up until the end”. She thinks the most likely contenders are “tantalising ponytail”, “tallest dwarf” and “just my arm”.

While unsure which way the public vote will eventually go, Dr Kavan says the quote she wished she’d said herself was the one by Queen’s Counsel Philip Morgan during the Mark Lundy murder retrial.

“I think it’s masterful. After interminable debates about fine points of evidence, these ten simple words created an unforgettable image that did more than just condemn Lundy, they reminded us of the victim. I was thinking, ‘These people once loved each other.’”    

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

The finalists for 2015 Quote of the year

“That’s a very tantalising ponytail.” – Waitress Amanda Bailey’s recollection of Prime Minister John Key’s statement before pulling her ponytail.

“The French love the coq.”  – ACT Leader David Seymour when answering a question about whether his silver fern pin would be replaced with a red peak flag.

“Just my arm.” – Steven Hansen when asked what else he had up his sleeve during the Rugby World Cup tournament.

"I started here aged 27 in a suit I borrowed from my Dad. I could never have dreamed what would happen in the next 24 years.” – John Campbell speaking to viewers on the final Campbell Live show.

“We’ve been asked to vote for the tallest dwarf.”  – Marketing expert Mike Hutcheson discussing the chosen four flag designs on TVNZ’s Breakfast show.

“Squeaky sand, eh!” – Bachelor Art Green after contestant Poppy Salter passes wind on their televised first date in what became known internationally as “the fart that stopped the nation”.

“I survived the Kills!” – Tweet of X factor contestant Joe Irvine after being bullied by Natalia Kills and Willy Moon on live television. Kills and Moon were sacked from the show following a public outcry.

 "No man should have his wife's brain on his shirt.” – A point made repeatedly by Queen's Counsel Philip Morgan in the Mark Lundy murder case retrial.

"Here's the thing – none of us get out of life alive. So be gallant, be great, be gracious, and be grateful for the opportunities that you have." – Student Jake Bailey in a speech at his senior prize-giving ceremony a week after he was told if he did not get cancer treatment he would not be alive to give the speech. 

"I used to make fun of him, I said no one could catch him because whenever the nostrils flared up he took all the oxygen." – Former All Black Eric Rush paying tribute to Jonah Lomu at his memorial. 

Go to http://bit.ly/2015quote to vote.

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