The finalists in the annual search for the quote of the year include the rallying cry of a sports team and an unintentionally suggestive question asked in Parliament by a senior-ranking politician.
The list of 10 finalists was narrowed from 125 nominations by Massey University, which has compiled the list every year since 2011.
Speech-writing specialist Heather Kavan, who was one of the judges, said the criteria included brevity, impact and emotional power.
“The best quotes tell a story in a single sentence and take us back to the emotions of that time.”
The most popular nomination for 2023, responsible for a third of all the votes, was the Warriors fans’ rallying cry, “Up the Wahs!”
“It’s more than a quote, it’s a cultural phenomenon,” Kavan said. “The words are singable and inspired a parody of the popular New Zealand song How Bizarre.”
Nicola Willis’ parliamentary question, “How big is his hole?”, directed at previous Finance Minister Grant Robertson and referring to the Labour Government’s fiscal shortfall, was also a popular nomination.
Parliament erupted in laughter at the innuendo and Robertson replied, “That’s not in the public interest, I can assure you.”
Another top nomination was Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown, who stated the obvious as the city faced a ruinous flood in January.
Previous winners include the Shortland Street cliffhanger, “Please tell me that’s not your penis” and the heartfelt words of Sarah Qasem to the Christchurch terrorist who killed her father, “These tears are not for you.”
The full list of finalists:
- “I don’t listen to rumours. I just start them.” Taika Waititi when asked to identify the wildest rumour he had heard about himself.
- “I encourage all of you to go out there, have more babies if you wish, that would be helpful.” Christopher Luxon on how New Zealand’s economic agenda needs people.
- “A B-grade American celebrity coming out and essentially hijacking Bird of the Century. I don’t think he even likes birds.” Save the Kiwi’s Erin Reilly reacting to John Oliver’s campaign for the pūteketeke.
- “Nah, we’re just three Māori boys.” Mikey Kihi, Rikki Kihi and Morehu Maxwell when asked if they were from the Navy as they rescued trapped citizens during Cyclone Gabrielle.
- “How big is his hole?” Nicola Willis questioning Grant Robertson in Parliament about a fiscal hole.
- “You can be a mother, or not, an ex-Mormon, or not, a nerd, a crier, a hugger – you can be all of these things, and not only can you be here – you can lead.” Jacinda Ardern’s emotional farewell speech to Parliament.
- “There is nobody who fails to be interesting.” Broadcaster Kim Hill reflecting on her years of interviewing.
- “Up the Wahs!” New Zealand Warriors fans and most of the country cheering on the Auckland rugby league team.
- “The issue is rain. We really need that to stop.” Mayor Wayne Brown as Auckland prepared to enter a state of emergency.
- “Oh, have you got ID?” Wairarapa bar manager Debbie Sinclair to Ed Sheeran when he made a surprise visit and she thought it was a government sting operation.
Rachel Maher is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. She has worked for the Herald since 2022.