Wellington, cabbages and memory loss vie for best quote

JOHN BANKS: Has not come up the river on a cabbage boat.
JOHN BANKS: Has not come up the river on a cabbage boat.

ACT leader John Banks' repeated insistence that he does not travel on boats used for the carriage of a type of vegetable has helped put the MP in the running for the best New Zealand quote of 2012.

Banks gets two entries out of the 10 shortlisted in the Massey University contest, which is now open for voting.

One of his selections is brief and a bit dry - the "I don't remember" response when asked about a helicopter ride to the Dotcom mansion.

Competition organiser Dr Heather Kavan, a speech-writing specialist at Massey's school of communication, journalism and marketing, said that quote was memorable because of the context.

She acknowledged that a more colourful piece of Banks speech was his  "I did not come up the river on a cabbage boat" - the other selection in the contest.

Banks has, in fact, sought more than once to put to rest any speculation that he might have travelled on a waterway in a craft carrying such vegetables.

Another of the more amusing entries is Finance Minister Bill English's rather unsettling admission that: "... it is not our best guess, it's just a guess", when discussing the financial value of state asset sales.

And what about Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's great "zip it, sweetie" to Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, as Bennett struggled to be heard above the farmyard braying in Parliament.

Kavan said the quotes chosen for the shortlist were those thought to be the most memorable.

The best quotes were often short and fun to say in different contexts, she said. Several quotes that topped American lists in recent years were terse and punchy, such as: "Don't tase me, bro!" and "I am not a

The shortlisted finalists for the 2012 New Zealand Quote of the Year are:

"I come to Wellington and I'm scared to be here." - Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker speaking to an emergency management conference in Wellington about the state of Wellington buildings.

"I did not come up the river on a cabbage boat." - John Banks responding to media questions about Dotcom.

"I don't remember." - John Banks’ response when asked about his helicopter ride to Dotcom's mansion.

"I just want to emphasise that it is not our best guess, it's just a guess." - Bill English estimating the financial value of selling state assets.

"New Zealand’s got some great brains out there and most of them are kids." - Luke Nola accepting the New Zealand Television Award for best children’s/youth programme.

"Nonu, Nonu, Nonu, boom!" - Actor Byron Coll as an overly familiar fan greeting Ma’a Nonu in the Mastercard All Blacks advertisement.

"Oh f...k! I can’t afford that." - Ewen Gilmour after his doctor told him he was going to live for another 40 years.

"Who needs to be able to quote Shakespeare if you can play rugby?" - A rhetorical question posed by 17-year-old Mt Roskill Grammar School prefect Joshua Iosefo in his Brown Brother speech.

"Your dish was a car crash but all of the occupants survived." - Josh Emett judging on Masterchef New Zealand.

"Zip it, sweetie." - Paula Bennett to Jacinda Ardern in Parliament.

Vote at http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/en/quote-of-the-year-2012.cfm