96 Kiwis have answered 12 Questions this year. Here are the most memorable responses from 12 of them

1: Caroline Whitelock, mum of three All Blacks and one Canterbury rugby rep


So what does a mum put in the pasta water to get four such supremely talented rugby players?

A: Actually the boys didn't have a lot of pasta when they were growing up. It was a roast, spuds, veges and fruit salad with icecream most nights. But I wormed them regularly. They were boys, you know, outside all the time, killing possums and that. I still worm them when they come home. They think it's a hell of a joke. Now I even worm their girlfriends. Oh, they would eat a lot. I'd have to do two roasts to feed them all. Mainly mutton it was. I remember going grocery shopping and I'd spend $70 to $90 just on fruit.


2: Booker Prize winner (then longlisted) writer Eleanor Catton
Q: You have lamented in the past on New Zealand's anti-intellectualism. Is that a hangover, do you think, from our history?

A: Yes, I think so - and a product of our size. A small country can't be "most" or "biggest"; it needs either to be "best" or "first" in order to make headlines. Sport offers the possibility for a nation to prove that it is the best, and many of our national heroes were the first in various fields, but it doesn't really work in the same way with literature and art. That could change, though. I'm confident that it will change.

3: Newly rolled Labour leader David Shearer
Q: What is it that the public still doesn't know about you?

A: That I'd have made a better Prime Minister than I was Leader of the Opposition.

4: All Black and Blues Captain Ali Williams
Q: What's your greatest weakness?

A: I've got a s***load of weaknesses and you've only got one page. But I guess it's situational awareness - sometimes I may be a goat when the time to be a goat is not appropriate. Sometimes at the time to be a goat, I'm a bit more serious. That's one of the bits challenging me as captain.

5: Pop singer and New Zealand Idol host Daniel Bedingfield
Q: Are you mad?

A: Crazy mad or American mad? I'm homeostatic - self-balancing. Every artist needs a bit of the fire. Like Prometheus - bringing the fire to humanity. That's the job of the artist. I'm mad in a good Kiwi mad way. Spontaneous. Lively. Gripped.


6: TV psychic and author Kelvin Cruickshank
Q: I've never understood why, if spirits are talking to you, they don't just come out and say it. Why are there always just hints about who and what they are saying?

A: Because they're dead. It ain't that easy, eh.

7: Jockey Noel Harris
Q: How much of a hard life has your body had, as a jockey?

A: Oh mate, it's not easy. Sometimes you're having to drop 3kg in a day and it's the dehydration that's the worst. Food was never a problem for me. It's the fluid. You're in and out of the sauna for a couple of hours, hot baths, we used to take diuretics but they're illegal now. I remember once taking off about 4 or 5kg in a week with saunas, sweating at night and you're so thirsty. You see one of those Coke ads and it's like, 'woah'. The worst part is in the 24 hours before you race. You have a little bit to drink between races but your body is like a sponge. Your skin is papery. You can see it in other jockeys too when they've had to drop a lot. They're black in the eyes. And then when you get to have fluid again, you think never again. Until the next time.

8: Actor Sam Neill
Q: What was the best lesson learned from your parents?

A: My mum used to say when we were blubbing or something like that - "Pull yourself together. And buck up." And that's pretty sound really. I imagine that therapy, rehab and so on - maybe even religion - they all pretty much boil down to that - pull yourself together. And for heaven's sake - buck up!

9: Rock star Jordan Luck
Q: Your son Tyler is almost 21 - what kind of a dad have you been?

A: Me and his mum split up when he was 2 and he grew up on Norfolk Island. I think Norfolk was a far better parent than I was. Now we get on great. I remember him arriving at Auckland airport when he was 11 - I hadn't seen much of him for years - and I held his hand as we were walking to get his bag. He said, "Is it okay if I call you dad?" And I said, "Yeah, so long as I call you son." And we laughed.

10: Shortland Street actress Teuila Blakely
Q: What was your experience of being a single Pacific Island teenage mum - young, brown and poor presumably?

A: People were cruel. White women could be really cruel. I was at Kmart buying a toy for my son's second birthday and I got the price wrong and couldn't afford the one I had at the counter. A woman behind me got mad 'cause I was holding things up and said, "I feel sorry for your son if you can't afford to buy him a birthday present. Women like you make me sick. My husband and I work hard so you can sit at home on the DPB." I was 18 and working at the time. It broke my heart.

11: Longtime Labour politician Trevor Mallard
Q: What's your best door-knocking story?

A: The time during the Mana byelection, when a mother took me into her son's room to enrol him and we found him playing some interactive porn game - with a joystick in each hand.

12: Writer CK Stead
Q: What, in your opinion, is the most overrated aspect of modern life?

A: Modern life at its worst is four people, two couples, around a table having coffee (with a glass of water of course), each of them reading text messages on a cellphone, and occasionally looking up to tell the others what he/she is finding there.