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Voting opens in 2006 Bird of the Year

18 September 2006 - Wellington

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

And they’re off! Voting opens in Forest & Bird’s 2006 Bird of the Year poll

The plucky little black robin or the magnificent royal albatross? The cheeky kea or the iconic kakapo? Or perhaps our national bird, the kiwi?

Just one of New Zealand’s many fascinating native birds will be chosen as Forest & Bird’s 2006 Bird of the Year – with so many wonderful contenders, we’re expecting a tight race.

Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell, who is leading Forest & Bird’s Restoring the Dawn Chorus campaign, says picking just one favourite New Zealand bird is a tough call.

“New Zealand has so many wonderful native birds that are all unique and special in their own way. We are lucky that we have so many worthy contenders to choose from,” he says.

Some of our rarest birds like the kakapo, the little spotted kiwi and the takahe are really precious to New Zealanders because we know how few of them are left, but we also enjoy the antics of many of the birds that we can see in everyday life, like last year’s inaugural winner, the tui, Kevin Hackwell says.

“I’d really like to see my favourite, the kokako, come in first place this year. It has a fabulous song like nothing else I have ever heard, and it is a stunning looking bird. Thirty years ago it was at the edge of extinction as conservationists fought to save the last of its habitat – now its numbers are steadily growing.”

Our VIP voters also found picking their favourites a difficult task – their choices cover a huge variety of New Zealand’s bird species.

Prime Minister Helen Clark:
“Sirocco, the kakapo. It was special and moving to see Sirocco - one of only 86 of the species - in its natural habitat on Ulva Island."

Governor-General Anand Satyanand:
“The weka – because it has personality and attitude,” while his wife Susan Satyanand chose: “The kokako – because it is a beautiful bird with a wonderful song.”

Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons:
“The kereru, because they are magnificent birds who come quite close and show off their lovely colours, and because they are so important in spreading large seeds of native trees.”

National leader Don Brash:
“The kotuku (white heron), because it is such an incredibly graceful and beautiful bird, and because it was the symbol of the 1990 sesquicentennial of the Treaty of Waitangi. As Reserve Bank Governor, I also put the kotuku on the $2 coin.”

ACT leader Rodney Hide:
“The tui, because it is such a beautiful bird, and elegant.”

Fashion designer Caroline Church:
“The ruru/morepork. We're lucky enough to have one living in our front garden and I just love listening to it at night, the most soothing sound when you're drifting off to sleep. Such a crazy little clown too chasing moths round the outside light.”

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples:
“Te kahu [New Zealand harrier hawk] because it has been my spirit bird ever since I was a kid. Everywhere I go, hawks go – they follow me around.”

TVNZ presenter Mark Sainsbury:
“The tui, because I have one in my garden that comes and chirps outside my window.”

Conservation Minister Chris Carter:
“The kakapo - more like a squirrel than a bird! Its survival is a tribute to DOC staff, conservationists and scientists who have dedicated so much time to increasing its numbers.”

Celebrity chef Lois Daish:
“The fantail, simply because this is the native bird that I see most often, and right outside our dining room window in Kilbirnie. When a pair of them visit the large pink manuka in our neighbours’ garden it is impossible to do anything except stop and watch them. Fantails are also the first native bird that I was aware of as a child … whenever we visited out grandparents in Taranaki and went for an excursion up the mountain, they were everywhere in the bush.”

“The Bug Man” Ruud Kleinpaste:
“My pick is the ‘humble’ kiwi. This bird is the reason I ended up in New Zealand, almost 30 years ago. Not many people know that ornithology is my very first passion (and that entomology is a later hobby!) The kiwi will always stand for New Zealand's remarkable geological and evolutionary history, and having worked with them for a while, I can tell you that they ain't ‘dumb and blind’ and certainly not ‘humble’ either! I just love them to bits.”

Cook and food writer Annabel Langbein:
“The kingfisher. Such a beautiful, glistening, auspicious bird. I feel very lucky as have a kingfisher in my inner city garden. He ( I think its a he!) has hung out here for years – it feels like he is a sentinel of good will in our garden.”

Voting in 2006 Bird of the Year opens today and closes on October 14. Members of the public are invited to cast their vote online at Forest & Bird’s website:


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