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Quote of the Year finalists announced - Massey University

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A line from the Buchanan family’s viral lockdown boogie and Hilary Barry’s tweet about the cannabis referendum are among the finalists for Massey University’s Quote of the Year competition.

The ten finalists were chosen from several dozen entries, and the public now has one week to vote for their favourite one - please see the voting form below.

Massey University Speech Writing specialist and competition organiser Dr Heather Kavan says the nominations ranged from tragic to humorous, with quotes about tears, dancing, Buzzy Bee and toilet paper in the mix.

How 2020 entries were different

The shared experience of lockdown dominated the entries, and this was reflected in nominations for quotes said by more than one person. "This was the first time we’ve had quotes where the speaker is a group, including the line from the Buchanan family video. Usually, the entries are full of quotes from individual personalities."

The most frequently nominated quote was "You’re on mute", said by almost everyone while on Zoom. "Although the line isn’t original or distinctively New Zealand, it’s highly relatable and a great leveller, with people from all walks of life launching into conversations no-one can hear."

Another first in the competition is that one quote comes from a non-human-Bird of the Year contestant the orange-fronted parakeet/kākāriki karaka. The parakeet’s campaign line "I am the orange face you can trust" strikes a chord for people who dislike Trump, Dr Kavan said.

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins each had six quotes nominated.

Dr Kavan says their best lines were often unscripted. "Jacinda Ardern’s ‘I did a little dance’ shows her humanity more than polished lines like "Know us by our deeds’ that made it onto the front cover of Time magazine.

"Similarly, much of the appeal of Judith Collins’ ‘When my eyebrow goes up, it’s a joke’ is that it’s part of a conversation with journalists. She’s replying to a question about how they can tell whether she’s joking or being factual, and the contrast between her amusement and the journalists’ seriousness makes the scene entertaining.

Who will win?

Dr Kavan says several people have commented that they think ‘You’re on mute’ will have the widest appeal.

"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.

"Incidentally, journalists often ask me which quote just missed out. This year it was Winston Peters’ ‘We’ve opposed woke pixie dust’ that was in eleventh place," she said.

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