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Source: Massey University


Four of this year’s finalists, clockwise from top left: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern; Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey; Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick; and All Black Jack Goodhue.


From heart-breaking responses to the Christchurch mosque shootings to the casual use of an internet meme in Parliament, 2019 has been a year of defining quotes produced by New Zealanders from politics, sport and criminal justice.

The 10 shortlisted finalists in Massey University’s annual Quote of the Year competition have been announced and the public now has one week to vote – please see the voting form below.

Massey University speech-writing specialist and competition organiser Dr Heather Kavan says many of this year’s shortlisted quotes were nominated multiple times.

“This year, the task of judging was relatively easy as several quotes were undeniably powerful and had been nominated by so many people that we knew they had public support,” she says.

“The main challenge was providing variety, as some people like deep and meaningful quotes while others like to scan the list for the one they find the funniest.”

Dr Kavan, one of three judges who selected the shortlist, says the the main theme in the nominations was the Christchurch terror attack, and three quotes were chosen for the final 10.

“Hello Brother”, the words uttered by shooting victim Haji-Daoud Nabi when he came face-to-face with the killer at the entrance of the Al Noor mosque, stood out for its emotional power, she says.

“The two men strike an extraordinary contrast – one vulnerable and kind-hearted, the other armed and about to commit crimes so brutal the Government Censor banned the footage. Mr Nabi welcomed the man, who replied with a volley of bullets. Many people commented on social media that they hope Mr Nabi’s words will be remembered.”

The other two quotes are “We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken”, from Imam Gamal Fouda’s speech at the Hagley Park remembrance and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s “They are us”. 

“The Prime Minister’s is the most well-known quote made in the aftermath of the attack,” Dr Kavan says. “As one of the nominators said, emotions were running high and she encapsulated what many people were feeling with three simple words. The quote became a rallying cry throughout New Zealand and reverberated throughout the world. Although some Muslims felt uncomfortable with the phrase as it seemed to deny their frequent experiences of racism, they acknowledged her good intentions.”

Competition organiser Dr Heather Kavan.


The internet meme in Parliament

The quote that received the most nominations was Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s dismissal of 51-year-old National MP Todd Muller’s interruption during her climate change speech in Parliament. Mr Muller is in fact Generation X not from the Baby Boom generation.   

“This year’s wild card is ‘Okay, boomer’,” Dr Kavan says. “On the one hand, the quote could score well as it’s had great publicity, even meriting a spot in Time magazine, and Parliament’s automated caption of ‘Berma’ instead of ‘Boomer’ was funny. On the other hand, people tire quickly of internet memes and some of the comeback lines were wittier than the actual quote.”

She says she has personal favourites but is interested to see how the public votes. 

“Like many others, I’d like to see ‘Hello Brother’ remembered. I’m also drawn by Ian Smith’s excited cricket commentary about going for a super over, mainly because his exuberance is contagious. Another quote I especially like is, ‘You can’t consent to murder’. Although it’s a plain statement of law uttered without the slightest rhetorical flourish, it was moving and thought-provoking, especially for those of us who empathised with Grace Millane and her family.” 

Dr Kavan began the annual Quote of the Year competition nine years ago as a way of celebrating New Zealanders’ best one-liners.  

2019 Quote of the Year finalists – vote below!

  • “Hello Brother.” – Shooting victim Haji-Daoud Nabi’s last words to the gunman at the Al Noor mosque entrance.
  •  “We are broken hearted, but we are not broken.” – Imam Gamal Fouda of Al Noor mosque after the Christchurch terrorist attacks. 
  •  “They are us.” – Jacinda Ardern speaking about Muslim victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack, in the aftermath of the killings.
  •  “I think the doves are rising up.” – Actor Lucy Lawless on the School Fight for Climate.
  • “He’s about as welcome as diarrhoea in a wetsuit in that place.” – Greenpeace’s Russell Norman on pro-coal Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attending the forum on climate change at Tuvalu.
  •  “There is scientific evidence that shows it makes me faster. It was done at Harvard, I think.” – All Black Jack Goodhue on why he is keeping his mullet haircut. 
  • “We’re going to a super over! You are kidding me! You are kidding me!” – Ian Smith’s exuberant commentary at the Cricket World Cup final. 
  •  “Just imagine if Colonel Sanders gave up the first time he wanted funding for his recipe. We would not have had that succulent chicken.” – Destiny Church’s Hannah Tamaki when asked how her new political party would raise funds.
  •  “You can’t consent to murder.” – Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey summing up the Grace Millane murder case.
  •  “Okay, boomer.” – Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick dismissing 51-year-old National MP Todd Muller’s interruption during her climate change speech in Parliament. 

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