Bird of the Century: Voters flock to have their say

4:19 pm on 10 November 2023
In this screengrab of the Last Week Tonight show, comedian John Oliver appears alongside a giant mechanised grebe as part of his plan to to appeal to hearts and minds in an attempt to stack the Bird of the Century competition.

A giant mechanised grebe is part of comedian John Oliver's "global campaign" to stack New Zealand's Bird of the Century competition. Photo: Screengrab / Last Week Tonight show

People around the world have been flocking to vote for their favourite feathered fauna in Forest and Bird's Bird of the Century competition.

Hundreds of thousands of votes have been cast, overwhelming the organisation. As a result, the announcement of the winner has been delayed.

Last year the votes only topped out at just over 50,000.

This comes after comedian John Oliver launched an international campaign to get the Pūteketeke, the Australasian Crested Grebe elected.

Australasian crested grebe

Australasian crested grebe. Photo: RNZ / Alison Ballance

He called his campaign "alarmingly aggressive," putting up posters around New Zealand announcing Pūteketeke as 'Lord of the Wings,' with billboards in cities such as Mumbai, Paris andTokyo.

Forest and Bird chief executive Nicola Toki told Morning Report overall, the enthusiasm in the competition has been a blessing.

"Right now, the entire world and especially New Zealand is facing a biodiversity crisis and part of that crisis is people not feeling connected enough or being able to celebrate the things that make our place so special," said Toki.

"The more people talking about our native wildlife in New Zealand and how important that is, particularly off the back of another kind of election, is great to me."

Toki said her team are working around the clock to sort through every single vote, with the winner announced after Wednesday morning.

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