Revealed: Massey Universitys New Zealand Quote of the Year competition Spread their legs narrowly beats goat quote

It was a slip of the tongue that turned into a viral sensation, became a meme and was even used to sell merchandise – Now Chris Hipkins’ gaffe has been voted quote of the year.

Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins’ “spread their legs” gaffe has narrowly beaten a toddler’s “No, it’s a f***ing goat” quote by a mere 0.5 per cent of the vote.

The quotes were neck to neck throughout the polling, which had a record 8296 votes cast.

Hipkins’ slip of the tongue occurred during a press conference in August when he accidentally referred to New Zealanders going outside to “spread their legs”.

The unusual health advice brought raised eyebrows from Dr Ashley Bloomfield who was standing next to him. The gaffe attracted 38.9 per cent of the votes.

The runner-up, with 38.4 per cent of the votes, was “No, it’s a f…ing goat.”

Massey speech writing specialist and competition organiser Dr Heather Kavan said Hipkins’ and the toddler’s quotes were streaks ahead in the poll within the first hours of voting.

Kavan attributes their success to the light relief they provided during the pandemic. “The videos sparked wit and creativity across the internet as New Zealanders revelled in the footage.

“Almost immediately, Hipkins’ gaffe became a rallying cry to ‘Spread your legs, not the virus,’ and the toddler’s goat quote became an internet sensation.”

It has since been described as a gaffe that energised a nation.

Kavan said the full impact of “spread their legs” my never be known, but there’s speculation it could increase New Zealand’s birth rate.

“Twitter users re-imagined the war against Covid-19 through the new salacious lens. Tweet after tweet celebrated Hipkins’ trail-blazing approach and the revised X-rated meaning of ‘Go early; go hard’.

“New Zealanders posted photos of themselves and their pets spreading their legs, while the Royal New Zealand Ballet tweeted photos of its dancers doing sculpture-like leg poses that most of us could only dream of accomplishing.

“There was also a heady remix video with the sign language interpreter’s gestures portrayed as dance moves.”

This is not the first time a slip of the tongue has won Quote of the Year. In 2018, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges beat top New Zealand comedians in the poll with his accidental reference to deputy Paula Bennett as ‘Paula Benefit’.


Coming in second was one of New Zealand’s most viral moments of 2021.

“No, it’s a f***ing goat!” was an unusual quote for the top ten because of the speaker’s young age.

it was the child’s innocence that wowed voters, Kavan said. “Most of the other speakers had a topic of national importance and a relatively sophisticated vocabulary. But the toddler had a sincerity that viewers loved.”

Like “spread their legs”, the goat quote took on a life of its own, spawning social media commentary and a parody video in which the goat was replaced by footage of Donald Trump dancing. The parody has since been removed from YouTube.

In third place was Jemima Gazley, with 13.8 per cent of the vote.

Fourteen-year-old Gazley was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer in February and spent her last weeks crowdfunding to help Australian researcher Dr Matt Dun find a cure.

Her quote has inspired many around the country and in the health sector, when she said: “”If I can’t be cured, I’ll be the cure.”

“If ever a quote told a story, it’s this one. My hope is that Jemima’s family can take some small comfort from knowing her courageous words will endure.” Kavan said.

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