Bird of the Year: Pīwauwau/ rock wren crowned as 2022 winner

8:41 am on 31 October 2022
Male rock wren, at Homer Tunnel.

The pīwauwau / rock wren. Photo: CC BY 2.0 Andrew / Flickr

The pīwauwau/ rock wren is the winner of the Bird of the Year contest for 2022.

The winner of the country's most popular competition was announced on Morning Report today.

By yesterday three frontrunners had emerged, the pīwauwau / rock wren, the kea, and kororā / the little blue penguin.

The tiny alpine dweller narrowly defeated the little blue penguin, with nearly 3000 voters putting it in the top spot.

Pīwauwau campaign leader Stephen Day said the bird had definitely flown under the radar up until now.

"Unless you'd spent some time in the mountains, you'd probably never heard of a rock wren until two weeks ago. It's a true underbird."

Competition spokesperson Ellen Rykers said the kororā actually had more number one votes but with the transferable voting system (people can vote for up to five birds) the pīwauwau emerged as winner.

More than 52,000 people voted.

She said the winner was "super-cute."

"They are these little olive green wrens and they weigh about the same as a Mallow Puff so they're super tiny.

"They don't really have a tail ... they have these long legs with these really cool quite big feet. They're kind of like snow shoes because rock wrens live above the bushline in the mountains in the Southern Alps so they need these kind of crampons to grip onto rocks and snow and ice up on the mountain tops."

Rock wrens were also nationally endangered and were threatened by rats, stoats and mice which would raid their nests. As climate change got worse, predators could get up higher into the rock wrens' homes, Rykers said.

"So they're a wee bird in trouble and it's fantastic that New Zealanders got behind them."

Herenga ā Nuku / The Outdoor Access Commission, the smallest Crown agency, backed the rock wren and even wrote a rap to encourage voters.

The kea came third followed by the Chatham Island black robin and the rockhopper penguin was fifth.

The two-time champion kākāpō was barred from the ballot, as the organisers, Forest and Bird, decided to make this year all about the underbirds.

Last year's competition proved controversial with the long-tailed bat prevailing.

Kororā Premiere

Kororā / the little blue penguin is the runner-up this year. Photo: Supplied / Julie Chandelier

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