13 Dec 2018

Quote of the Year: Simon Bridges' Paula 'Benefit' gaffe

3:17 pm on 13 December 2018

A slip of the tongue by National Party leader Simon Bridges has become the winner of this year's best quote.

Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett, during the press conference regarding the Jami-Lee Ross tape

National Party leader Simon Bridges and deputy leader Paula Bennett. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

In July, Mr Bridges accidentally referred to his deputy Paula Bennett as "Paula Benefit" during a media interview.

The gaffe won Massey University's annual Quote of the Year competition, with 21 percent of the 3322 votes cast by New Zealanders.

Competition organiser Heather Kavan said the gaffe was all the more funny because it came at a time when Mr Bridges would've been trying to avoid the word, due to controversy around benefit policies by Mrs Bennett.

"The journalist and Simon Bridges laugh at the mistake, giving us an extra second to savour the embarrassment," she said.

"The stumble itself isn't that bad ─ even eloquent speakers like Barack Obama make slip-ups."

However, Ms Kavan said the winning quote came as a surprise.

"I didn't expect voters to experience Simon Bridges' unconscious mind as more entertaining than some of New Zealand's best comedians," she said.

"I think the win comes down to the twinge of delight we feel when we see people in power make a mistake."

Taika Waititi's forthright quote about New Zealand being racist came in second place.

The comment was made during an interview with Dazed magazine, in reaction to the interviewer saying, "I think I've got quite an idealised vision of New Zealand as like Australia without the racism and the blokeish sense of humour."

Waititi responded: "It's racist as f***. I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it's a racist place."

The comment probably resonated with a lot of people's experiences, Ms Kavan said.

In third place, was Sir John Key's "wear a name badge" quip about Australia's constantly-changing prime ministers.

"The quote extends the friendly banter between Australians and New Zealanders. He said it when he was speaking at a property conference in Darwin, and Australians seemed to enjoy the humour," Ms Kavan said.

"They were already making jokes themselves about the fast-changing leadership, and one designer was selling "Ban the single-use only Prime Minister" canvas bags to replace plastic bags."

Here's the full list of Massey University's Quote of the Year competition winners:

  • "Winston Peters spends a huge amount of time on me, on Paula Ben- Benefit- Bennett." - National Party leader Simon Bridges
  • "It's racist as f***. I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it's a racist place." - Filmmaker Taika Waititi
  • "I used to say, 'Mate, I don't really mind who turns up, just wear a name badge so I know who it is'." - Former prime minister John Key
  • "We're quite a fiddly-looking shaped country - a bit like a half-eaten lamb chop." - Actor and comedian Rhys Darby, speculating on why New Zealand is left off world maps, in a Tourism New Zealand video.
  • "I think Minogue is an amazing partner, but perhaps sometimes his ideas don't align with actual rational thinking or any evidence or any intelligence." - Officer O'Leary (actor Karen O'Leary) of Wellington Paranormal describing Officer Minogue.
  • "I don't know exactly what she said, but I know if you play it backwards it says 'Help me!'" - Comedian Melanie Bracewell when asked to recall Melania Trump's answer to a reporter's question, on 'Have you been Paying Attention?'
  • ''Wonky Donkey has had a good run for a donkey with three legs." - Author Craig Smith after sales of his children's book skyrocketed when a video of a grandmother reading it went viral.
  • "It's so refreshing to see a straight white man not succeed in comedy right now." - Comedian Rose Matafeo responding to British comedian Naz Osmanoglu's jokes about her ethnicity.
  • "I do find it slightly offensive that everyone thinks that every New Zealander starred in either 'Lord of the Rings' or 'The Hobbit'." - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern discussing Hobbiton on The Stephen Colbert Show.
  • "A little bit of a snafu." Graeme Ball of the New Zealand History Teachers' Association describing the NZQA History exam where Year 13 students were stumped by the word "trivial".