Hard News by Russell Brown


The Whankernui Factor

Words involving Michael Laws and an "h" have dominated the rankings in this year's Public Address Word of the Year 2009 vote.

The poll was topped by a blast from the past -- the immortal words of police dog handler Guy Baldwin to a young man he suspected was up to no good: "Always blow on the pie".

The phrase comes from a three year-old clip from the Police Ten 7 TV show that went viral when it was posted to YouTube this year. The "pie" advice amused not only New Zealanders, but news consumers the world over, as news organisations as far afield as Britain and the US carried the story.

The clip was covered in The Sun, the Daily Mail online, the Singapore Straits Times , South Africa's, Independent Online, and Florida's St Petersburg Times.

The French news service france24.com declared declared that Baldwin had become "a web star with a totally absurd dialogue, worthy of one of Quentin Tarantino’s best films," and Britain's Anorak blog network site hailed it as the best police video ever.

But the next three words in order were to do with Whanganui mayor Michael Laws and the troublesome – for his council – letter "H". The runner-up was the arch neologism "whanker", followed by "Whanganui" and "Lhaws".

"The strong 'H' vote underlines the something we all know about the Public Address reader community," said publisher Russell Brown. "That it is full of lily-livered liberal elites with a compulsive fondness for neologism.

"'Lhaws' has become established this year as the standard Public Address spelling of Mr Laws' name. 'Whanganui' emphasises the community's solidarity with the forces of correct spelling. And 'whanker' speaks for itself. It speaks a little too often, if the truth is to be known.

"It bears noting that had all three 'H' words been counted together – as 'whankernui', perhaps – the total would have topped the poll."

The full 2009 Top 10, as voted by more than 5000 regular readers and contributors to the Public Address System community forums is:

1. "Always Blow On The Pie"

2. Whanker

3. Whanganui

4. Lhaws

5. = InTimeForTheWorldCup

5. = Supercity

7. Parental correction

8. It's knowledge , bro

9. Teabagging

10. Carly Binding Referendum

Wellington reader David Ritchie was the first to nominate the word on the online discussion, earning himself a case of Matawhero Wines' premium-label chardonnay. The same prize also goes to Liz Gordon of Wellington, who emerged from the draw of voters.

And now, once again, the advice we can all take into the festive season:

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