20 Oct 2019

Bird of the Year: Can the kererū keep the top spot?

8:35 pm on 20 October 2019

With just over a week until voting opens, young New Zealanders are flocking to support their favourite Bird of the Year.

Last year New Zealanders counted more than 15,000 Kererū

Last year New Zealanders counted more than 15,000 Kererū Photo: Supplied/ Tony Stoddard

Competition is set to be fierce this year with the reigning kererū vying to keep its top spot.

But if 16-year-old conservationist George Hobson got his way, it would be the banded dotterel or pohowera soaring to success.

"They're just absolutely gorgeous, they're floofy but they're also incredibly endangered," he said.

George said he was passionate about New Zealand wildlife but worried that not everyone understood how threatened its species were.

"Lots of New Zealanders aren't aware of what a dire state our New Zealand birds and all wildlife is actually in," he said.

"We've got 4000 species threatened or at risk of extinction so anything we can do to help raise the profile of those endangered species is really a very good thing."

Amber Calman, who is 17, had taken to Twitter to cheer for the black-billed gull or tarāpuka.

Although it is the most endangered gull in the world, Amber said it was thought to be a bit of an underdog.

"Black-billed gull is pretty unknown, it often gets mixed up with similar species such as the red-billed gull," she said.

"But both species are struggling and black-billed gull in particular is nationally critical so I think it needs a bit more attention than it is currently getting."

Previously, Bird of the Year has operated under First Past the Post - but this time voters will be asked to rank their top picks from one to five - much like how people voted in the local elections in some regions.

Voting opens on Monday 28 October and closes on Sunday 10 November.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs