NZ's Quote of the Year finalists announced after rocky 2020

Jacinda Ardern's dance moves, Judith Collins' arching eyebrow, and toilet paper all feature in a short-list for Massey University's hunt for 2020's best quote.

Dozens of entries have been whittled down to 10 finalists, with the public being given one week to vote for their favourite.

The nominations ranged from tragic to humorous quotes and feature tears, dancing, Buzzy Bee, and even the cannabis referendum.

Last year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's unifying phrase "They are us" won the Quote of the Year award.

The Quote of the Year top 10
1. "Because we can't get on each other's nerves if we're dancing constantly." The Buchanan family in their music video that went viral during lockdown.

2. "When my eyebrow goes up, it's a joke." Judith Collins on how people can tell whether she is joking or being factual.

3. "I am the orange face you can trust." Orange-fronted parakeet requesting votes in Bird of the Year competition.

4. "There are no new cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today." Dr Ashley Bloomfield at press conferences throughout the year.

5. "The Aussies can have Russell Crowe, but they can't have our buzzy bee." Simon Beattie after The Crown shifted the New Zealand buzzy bee scene to Australia.

6. "Let it be known these tears are not for you." Sara Qasem speaking to the Christchurch Mosque gunman in her victim impact statement.

7. "I did a little dance." Jacinda Ardern when asked how she reacted when New Zealand had zero active cases of Covid 19.

8. "You're on mute." Most New Zealanders on Zoom from March 2020 onwards.

9. "Put your jazz cabbage away people." Hilary Barry on referendum results showing New Zealanders voted against legalising cannabis.

10. "It really highlights how three-ply soft we've become as a species." Psychology Professor Marc Wilson on stockpiling toilet paper during lockdown.

This year, Winston Peters just missed out with the quote: "We've opposed woke pixie dust", which came in at 11th.

How the entries were different this year
Massey University speech writing specialist and competition organiser Dr Heather Kavan says the experience of lockdown dominated the entries.

The most frequently nominated quote was "you're on mute", which was said by many people on Zoom calls this year.

It is also a year of firsts because a quote from a bird and a group also feature in the top 10.

"This was the first time we've had quotes where the speaker is a group, including the line from the Buchanan family video," Kavan said.

"Usually, the entries are full of quotes from individual personalities."

Bird of the Year contestant the orange-fronted parakeet/kākāriki karaka's campaign line "I am the orange face you can trust" struck a chord with many Kiwis.

Kavan says several people have indicated they think "you're on mute" will have the widest appeal during voting this year.

"The winning quotes often aren't ones that fulfil established criteria, like vivid language, emotional power and maximum meaning.

"In many ways, quotes are like songs — we recognise a good one when we hear it, but it's difficult to define why it sparks something within us."

Voting closes midday Friday, December 18. Click here to vote for your favourite quote.

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