14 Nov 2023

RNZ presenter embroiled in avian stoush with US talk host

4:53 pm on 14 November 2023

Is the kererū "the best bird" or a "pigeon in a tank top"? With just 24 hours to go before the winner of Aotearoa's Bird of the Century contest is announced, TAHI and RNZ presenter Evie Orpe has become embroiled in an ornithological stoush with US talkshow host John Oliver.

Oliver has run a global and sustained campaign in favour of the wild-feathered pūteteketeke, which has seen him criticised by a number of New Zealand bird nerds, including Vote Kiwi campaigner Erin Reilly and TAHI presenter Orpe.

OIiver, though, has no time for other birds in the line-up.

His campaign has included putting up ads in New Zealand, Paris, Mumbai, Tokyo and London, as well as flying a banner over Ipanema beach in Brazil.

TAHI presenter/producer Evie Orpe proudly showing off her 'Sulfate' tee for NZ Music T-Shirt Day. The artwork featured on the shirt is by Peter Ruddell.

TAHI presenter Evie Orpe. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

On his latest show Oliver slammed the kiwi, describing it as "Donkey Kong's hairy testicle" and a "rat carrying a toothpick".

He also took umbrage with Orpe claiming that the kereru was in fact, the best a bird can get.

Orpe had previously invited Oliver to join the podcast to debate his choice "if you want to put your money where your mouth is about your bird".

"I don't even know how to argue with someone who is that wrong," Oliver said. "This [the kererū] is the best bird? Please, it's a f****** pigeon in a tank top. Debate over!"

Voting for the Bird of the Century closed on Sunday. Results will be announced tomorrow, but Oliver reckons he already knows who has flown to the top spot.

"We're going to win, and we're going to win by a lot."

A shot from US comedian John Oliver's segment on New Zealand's Bird of the Year.

A shot from US comedian John Oliver's segment on New Zealand's Bird of the Year on 5 November 2023. Photo: Screengrab

  • Bird of the Century: Voters flock to have their say
  • Dear John Oliver: Kiwis cry fowl over foreign interference in Bird of the Century campaign
  • US comedian John Oliver ruffles feathers with call to stack the Bird of the Century ballots