Penis cliffhanger is New Zealand quote of the year

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The results of the public vote are in and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the winner is a lewd one.

"Please tell me that's not your penis", a cliffhanger line from soap opera Shortland Street, has won New Zealand's quote of the year competition.

It was blurted out by the character Chris Warner, when a nude picture his son had sent to his girlfriend popped up on the family iPad.

Massey University said the phrase received 18% of the 7,238 votes cast.

The dramatic moment, which aired in February, soon went viral, even catching the attention of newspapers in the UK (where the show is also broadcast) and American chat show Jimmy Kimmel Live! which did a spoof of it with Alec Baldwin.

'The delivery is part of the magic'

Massey University holds the phrase competition every year. Organiser Heather Kavan said there were many reasons for the Shortland Street line's appeal.

Image source, Shortland Street
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The "uncomfortable facial expression" of the character hearing the expression added to the appeal, said Ms Kavan

"The quote is highly entertaining. The suspense is laughably theatrical, rather than anxiety-inducing, and therefore many people enjoy hearing it again," she said.

"And, of course, Chris Warner's [played by Michael Galvin] delivery is part of the magic, along with Harry Warner's uncomfortable facial expression and the closing music."

She also said it brought attention to the serious topic of sexting among young people.

"The quote dramatises the risk of storing photos of one's private parts. That's immensely topical. Even whistle-blower Edward Snowden and US comedian John Oliver have chatted about the security of so called 'dick pics'," Ms Kavan said.

The winner may surprise some outside New Zealand, given it was an election year in the country and colourful insults were flying back and forth between politicians.

Some of them did make the finalist stage, including New Zealand First leader Winston Peter's quote, while debating with election rival Gareth Morgan, that it was "a long time since I've been ravaged by a toothless sheep"

Image source, AFP
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Every year Japan chooses a Chinese character, known as kanji, as a defining symbol

Japan was a little more serious about its kanji character of the year. The choice of "North" was representative of the collective mood of a country that has seen a year of anxiety over its neighbour, North Korea.

Australia also chose a word that encapsulated the national mood. The country was hit by a citizenship scandal this year, resulting in the resignations of several politicians found to have dual citizenship - not allowed under the constitution.

They ended up with "Kwaussie" as word of the year. It's a mix of Kiwi and Aussie, that describes a person who is a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand - as was the case with Australia's deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and several others.