Kakapo voted New Zealand's bird of the year


The New Zealand public has voted Kakapo as its bird of the year, meaning the Critically Endangered parrot is the first two-time winner of the popular award.

Kakapo first won in 2008 and is an iconic New Zealand species. After conservation efforts, the population has risen from 50 during the 1990s to 213 now. The species used to live throughout Aotearoa, but today survives only on predator-free islands.

Kakapo is a flightless parrot; its name comes from the Māori word 'Kākāpō', meaning "night parrot" (Jake Osborne via Flickr).

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Another endangered bird, the Antipodean Albatross, which is often caught in fishing nets, won most first-choice votes out of the 55,000 that were cast, but under the competition's preferential system Kakapo came through. The competition has boosted environmental awareness, organisers say, compared with 15 years ago when bird of the year started.

No stranger to scandal, the competition this year involved the endorsement by an adult toy store of the polyamorous Stitchbird, plus voter fraud. Volunteer scrutineers found some 1,500 votes cast one night were from the same IP address, all for the Little Spotted Kiwi. Entrants could vote for up to five birds, ranking them in order of choice. This year's poll was pushed back to avoid a clash with New Zealand's parliamentary election. 

Under the last Labour-Green government, the Department of Conservation – the government agency in charge of looking after native species – received the biggest funding boost it has had in 15 years. The government has promised to put cameras on all commercial fishing boats, and New Zealand has a goal to be predator free by 2050.