A politician's three-word
putdown has topped a poll of the best New Zealand quotes of
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett telling Labour MP
Jacinda Ardern in Parliament to "zip it, sweetie" was the
overwhelming winner in Massey University's 2012 Quote of the
Year competition, collecting 57 per cent of the vote.
Dr Heather Kavan, a speech-writing specialist at Massey
University's School of Communication, Journalism and
Marketing, says the quote's win was no surprise.
"There's something almost primal about two women fighting,
and the line seemed completely unscripted," Dr Kavan says.
"As far as jibes go, it wasn't outrageously cruel - Jacinda
Ardern laughed it off, by tweeting, 'Kids sitting in the
gallery could be forgiven for thinking they were watching a
Dr Kavan says "Zip it, sweetie" is also pleasing to the ear
because it has nice rhyming syllables, and it is a quote that
can be repeated in different contexts.
Finance Minister Bill English came a distant second in the
competition with his quote estimating the value of selling
state assets: "I just want to emphasise that it is not our
best guess, it's just a guess."
Dr Kavan says politicians feature prominently on the list
because they get a lot of publicity, and the Finance
Minister's quote is appealing because of its unintentional
"With some of the quotes, especially the Bill English one,
there's also an element of schadenfreude - the pleasure of
seeing someone in a superior position say something that
makes them look stupid," she says.
Many of the nominations for Quote of the Year reflected New
Zealanders' interests (rugby, food) and concerns (earthquakes
and having enough money to live), Dr Kavan said.
"We can recognise a good quote immediately because we want to
say it ourselves, or put it to music. The best lines are
usually brief and witty, and they also need to be original."
Dr Kavan and her judging panel, which included Massey's
Vice-Chancellor and former politician Steve Maharey, narrowed
down several dozen entries nominated by Massey students and
the general public to a top 10. The shortlist was then put to
a public vote to find the winner.
The Top 10 quotes of 2012
1. "Zip it, sweetie." - Paula Bennett to Jacinda Ardern in
2. "I just want to emphasise that it is not our best guess,
it's just a guess." - Bill English estimating the financial
value of selling state assets.
3. "Oh f ... k! I can't afford that." - Ewen Gilmour after
his doctor told him he was going to live for another 40
4. "I don't remember." - John Banks' response when asked
about his helicopter ride to Dotcom's mansion.
5. "You think I came up the river on a cabbage boat." - John
Banks responding to media questions about Dotcom.
6. "Who needs to be able to quote Shakespeare if you can play
rugby?" - 17-year-old Joshua Iosefo on Campbell Live giving
his Mt Roskill Grammar School speech.
7. "Nonu, Nonu, Nonu, boom!" - Actor Byron Coll as an overly
familiar fan greeting Ma'a Nonu in the Mastercard All Blacks
8. "New Zealand's got some great brains out there and most of
them are kids." - Luke Nola accepting the New Zealand
Television Award for Best Children's/Youth programme.
9. "Your dish was a car crash but all of the occupants
survived." - Josh Emett judging on Masterchef New Zealand.
10. "I come to Wellington and I'm scared to be here." - Bob
Parker speaking to an emergency management conference in
Wellington about the state of Wellington buildings.