The feathered candidates in NZ's Bird Of The Century competition are going to have to overcome a powerful international endorsement for the Pūteketeke.
John Oliver, host of HBO’s ‘Last Week Tonight’, endorsed the bird (AKA the Australasian crested grebe) in the latest episode of his show. He also revealed he has put up call-to-vote billboards in Wellington, Mumbai, Tokyo, Paris, London, Brazil’s Ipanema Beach and even Mantioc, Wisconsin.
“We’ve put together a campaign which could reasonably be described as ‘alarmingly aggressive’,” he said.
Oliver wants the Pūteketeke to win because they “give each other space to co-parent”, have an elaborate then confusing mating ritual, eat their own feathers before throwing them up, and, most importantly, are endangered.
“They’re weird puking birds with colourful mullets!” he said. “What’s not to love here?”
“And there’s another reason that you should vote for the Pūteketeke, and that’s that its existence is under threat. It’s estimated that its New Zealand population numbers fewer than 1,000 birds. And yet, tragically, it’s never won Bird of the Year before.”
“We’re going all out for this thing,” he continued. “I don’t just want the Pūteketeke to win — I want it to win in the biggest landslide in the history of this magnificent competition.”
“I want it to do to other bird of the century candidates what the Pūteketeke does to fish in New Zealand’s lakes — eat them alive, and then throw them back up in a ball of feathers.”
Though there are concerns this is a foreign superpower interfering in a New Zealand election, Oliver is aware that the reason for the annual bird competition is to draw attention to some of our endangered wildlife.
His show regularly attracts over a million viewers and has a huge online presence. So, that's more eyeballs and potential donations for our wildlife.
Voting for New Zealand’s Bird of the Century closes on November 12 and the winner will be announced on November 13.