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Source: Massey University


In July the National Party leader accidentally referred to his deputy Paula Bennett as “Paula Benefit”.


Kiwis have voted a slip of the tongue by Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges as 2018’s best quote.

In July the National Party leader accidentally referred to his deputy Paula Bennett as “Paula Benefit” during a media interview. The gaffe attracted 21 per cent of the 3322 votes cast by New Zealanders in Massey University’s annual Quote of the Year competition.

Massey speech writing specialist and competition organiser Dr Heather Kavan says she was genuinely surprised by the result.

“I didn’t expect voters to experience Simon Bridges’ unconscious mind as more entertaining than some of New Zealand’s best comedians,” she says. “I think the win comes down to the twinge of delight we feel when we see people in power make a mistake.”

She says it isn’t the first time the slip-up has been made.

“The joke has been around since at least 2012 when Paula Bennett was making controversial decisions about benefit policies. What makes it funnier this time is that the word ‘benefit’ rolls off Simon Bridges’ tongue at the very moment he’s trying not to say it.”

Dr Kavan says this kind of mistake is called a “white bear” slip of the tongue, from a psychology experiment where people were told not to think of a white bear and couldn’t help mentioning it.

“The journalist and Simon Bridges laugh at the mistake, giving us an extra second to savour the embarrassment,” she says. “The stumble itself isn’t that bad ─ even eloquent speakers like Barack Obama make slip-ups. And Simon Bridges’ error probably won’t resound in history as much as George Bush Senior’s ‘We’ve had some sex, uh, setbacks.’”

Taika Waititi sparked a debate about whether New Zealand is indeed “racist as f***”.


Taika Waititi’s quote narrowly beats John Key’s

This year’s runner-up, with 18 per cent of the vote, was Taika Waititi’s quote about New Zealand being “racist as f***”. The comment was made during an interview with Dazed magazine, in reaction to the interviewer saying, “I think I’ve got quite an idealised vision of New Zealand as like Australia without the racism and the blokeish sense of humour.” Waititi’s response was, “Nah, it’s as racist as f***.” 

“The quote was forthright and seems to resonate deeply with people’s experiences,” Dr Kavan says, “and the whole interview had several powerful lines in it.  

“I also enjoyed Taika’s comment about New Zealanders being ‘good observers, because we come from a place where basically nothing happens’.” 

A mere eight votes behind, in third place, was Sir John Key’s “wear a name badge” quip about Australia’s constantly-changing prime ministers.

“The quote extends the friendly banter between Australians and New Zealanders. He said it when he was speaking at a property conference in Darwin, and Australians seemed to enjoy the humour,” Dr Kavan says.

“They were already making jokes themselves about the fast-changing leadership, and one designer was selling “Ban the single-use only Prime Minister” canvas bags to replace plastic bags.”

While only coming in fourth place, Dr Kavan believes Rhys Darby’s “lamb chop” quote may end up having the most staying power from this year’s competition.

“It will be difficult to look at a map of New Zealand again without thinking of a half-eaten lamb chop. Already, people have posted photos of National Lamb Day’s giant lamb chop in different locations to tell Rhys Darby they’ve found New Zealand.”

2018 Quote of the Year finalists, in order of votes garnered

  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. “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.
  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. “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 New Zealand video.
  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.
  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. ”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. “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. “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. “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”.

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