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High-flying poll opens

High-flying poll opens



Voting opens tomorrow (Tuesday, October 7) in New Zealand’s most critical election: Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year poll.

Several high-profile Kiwis have already cast special votes for their favourite native New Zealand bird. National Party Leader John Key is getting behind a fellow flightless candidate, the kiwi. “The kiwi is a national symbol, and it is a loveable-looking native bird,” he says.

In the lead so far is the tui, supported by TV personality Petra Bagust, netballer Irene van Dyk and Trade Me founder Sam Morgan. “It’s wonderful to have a native bird tough enough to brave life in the city,” Petra Bagust says.

The alpine kea is polling second, with VIP votes from adventurer Peter Hillary and TV presenter Jason Gunn. “I think about all the time I have spent in the Southern Alps, and the presence of little family flocks of kea is one of my mountain highlights,” Peter Hillary says.

Radio broadcaster Graeme Hill has shown he’s not a swinging voter, again backing the grey warbler, which was last year’s Bird of the Year winner.

Former All Black and Patron of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust Anton Oliver voted along party lines for the yellow-eyed penguin, or hoiho.

Votes have also been cast for minor party candidates: Poet Sam Hunt has voted for the pied stilt, or poaka, and birdwatcher and writer Steve Braunias is backing the white-faced heron.

Previous Bird of the Year winners were the fantail in 2006 and the tui in 2005.

The Bird of the Year poll closes on November 7. Votes can be cast on-line at from October 7.

Comments from high-profile Kiwis who have cast early votes:

TV personality Petra Bagust: Tui

“I love tui for their loud and proud ‘Look at me, listen to my song and get out of my tree!’ They are so full of song and busy chasing and racing around the backyard – it’s wonderful to have a native bird tough enough to brave life in the city. They have great style: black and deep shimmering green, all topped off with white neck tie.”


Netballer Irene van Dyk: Tui

“Although I like many birds and all things native, one of my favourite native birds is the tui. Beautiful tunes can be heard from the tui. They are considered to be intelligent birds and I like their lovely colouring, especially the cute little white tuft at its neck.”


Trade Me founder Sam Morgan: Tui

“They are the ones we find most in our garden, sitting on our flax bushes. My young daughters call them the marshmallow bird – after the marshmallows they all seem to have tied around their necks.”


Adventurer Peter Hillary: Kea

“I think about all the time I have spent in the Southern Alps, and the presence of little family flocks of kea is one of my mountain highlights. I love their intelligence, their curiosity and I can't help feeling that they have a sense of humour (though that is probably my interpretation of things). The anachronism of a parrot up in the snow is uniquely New Zealand and their call and the orange flash of their wings is always a thrill to me and the epitome of wild New Zealand. We must never let them go where so many of our natural treasures have gone.”


TV presenter Jason Gunn: Kea

"The kea is my absolute favourite. There may be more beautiful native birds, but the kea are just the cheekiest, most inquisitive birds and I just love that. If you've done a bit of walking or tramping, you know they are watching you, daring you to be game enough to leave your car in a car park with them. Their cheekiness is just so loveable."


Wildlife photographer Tui De Roy: Southern royal albatross

“The majestic southern royal albatross (along with the wandering albatross) is the largest flying bird alive today and is endemic to New Zealand's southern islands. With a wingspan of more than three metres and capable of circumnavigating the globe with ease, it personifies the spirit of utter freedom and wildness of life on the open ocean. The best place to appreciate it is on a seabird viewing trip off of the Kaikoura Peninsula. It is sobering to remember that the 22 albatrosses of the world belong to the most endangered of all bird families (containing more than one species), with three-quarters of them nudging towards extinction.”


Governor-General’s wife Susan Satyanand: Albatross

"I've always liked seabirds and I think of the albatross, or toroa, as the grandest and also very graceful. With their enormous wingspan and stamina they can stay aloft for astonishingly long periods. Their soaring flight is a sight to behold."


Governor-General Anand Satyanand: Weka

"The weka, with its curiosity and attitude, is one of the characters of the New Zealand bush.  Tales of weka stealing shiny items are part of our nation's folklore."


National Party Leader John Key:  Kiwi

“The kiwi is a national symbol, and it is a loveable-looking native bird.”


Broadcaster Graeme Hill: Grey warbler

“It is also the parent of most shining cuckoos, who bludge off the goodwill of the warbler community from egg right through to adolescence, just for them to drop off their own delinquent children to other grey warblers. Its song is the most often heard purely New Zealand bird song yet it is so tiny and secretive that it is rarely seen. It is New Zealand's lightest bird, along with the rifleman. Edith Piaf, eat your heart out.”


Birdwatcher and writer Steve Braunius: White-faced heron

“Like the tui and all other natives, this self-introduced bird from Australia found a niche here and called it home. It’s now a familiar, welcome sight in open country and on mudflats, in city parks and estuarine beaches. It looks great – elegant, almost mauve, long-legged and long-winged – and its croak sounds like death.”


Former All Black and Patron of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust Anton Oliver: Yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho)

"The first time I knew I loved hoiho was when I saw them come in from a day's fishing at dusk on the eastern side of the Otago Peninsula. The last few hundred metres are the most dangerous, with predators cruising the water, so they sit up – duck like – before they enter the breakers, assessing threats in the sea and on land before they submerge and then swim their little hearts out! Once on land, they have to evade land-based predators – usually sea lions – hop, waddle, and belly-flop their way up some impossibly steep terrain to a nest and an awaiting spouse. It’s marvellous viewing."


Poet Sam Hunt: Pied stilt (poaka)

“Kaipara’s remote shorelines are well populated by the pied stilt, whose cry is like a creaking door, according to James K Baxter. They're delicate birds, and great actors – witness their feigning injury to distract attention. I love, too, their casualness in building their nests – of which they are fiercely protective. A lovely, crazy mix!”


Black Seeds lead singer Barnaby Weir: Kereru

 “As a teen growing up in Eastbourne, I would often see kereru gorging on berries around our house then watch them slowly getting drunk on the fruit. You can hear them coming, making a big racket. I love their relaxed physical style. Oh, to be a kereru for a few summer hours.”






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