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Forest & Bird is pleased to announce the dates and theme for New Zealand’s most hotly anticipated avian election, Bird of the Year 2022. 

Voting for Bird of the Year 2022 will open at 9.00am on Monday 17 October and closes at 5.00pm on Sunday 30 October, with the winner announced on the morning of Monday 31 October. 

“Bird of the Year is a beloved fixture on the conservation calendar each year, and we’re stoked to bring Aotearoa yet another banger battle of the birds,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson Ellen Rykers.  

“We welcome anyone who’s interested in joining the fun to back their favourite bird as campaign manager.” 

You can apply to be a Bird of the Year campaign manager here 

This year, Forest & Bird is highlighting the underappreciated and overlooked birds through an ‘underbirds’ theme.  

“New Zealanders love getting behind an underdog – or in this case, underbird – and we want to channel that love to some of our feathered friends that may be overshadowed by their flashier, chonkier or louder cousins,” says Rykers. 

“Of course, the election remains fundamentally democratic, but we encourage all voters to research candidates’ policies, and maybe discover a cool new species that speaks to them.” 

Forest & Bird has developed a list of 21 underbirds to highlight some of these lesser-known candidates. 

“These birds are not just overlooked in Bird of the Year, they’re also underbirds in life, with many of them threatened with extinction,” says Rykers.  

The certified underbirds were identified using an algorithm that takes into account votes in previous competitions, media coverage, and conservation status. 

Bat bows out for 2022 

After causing a right flap in 2021, pekapeka-tou-roa / long-tailed bat is returning to his dark cosy cabbage tree hole for a cup of tea and a lie down. 

Pekapeka has spent the past year completing Bird of the Year duties, including posing for Metalbird sculptures, taste testing Bennetto chocolate and trying on comfy Allbirds kicks. 

Forest & Bird thanks pekapeka for their service to the manu of Aotearoa. 

Pekapeaka speaking to a mic saying "I've had a very long year... I am very small and have no money so can you imagine the kind of stress I'm under


Kākāpō takes hiatus to focus on family 

This year, the kākāpō will not be running for Bird of the Year. 

“Skraark! After two successful terms as your bird of the year, we are taking a step back from politics to focus on family,” says spokesbird Sirocco. 

“We kākāpō are only 216 strong. We urgently need to focus on making more adorable kākāpō chicks, so we can grow our army of moss chickens and take over Aotearoa. Boom!” 

The kākāpō has not ruled out making a return to politics in future. 

List of certified underbirds 

Reef heron | Matuku moana 

Subantarctic skua | Hākoakoa 

Long-tailed cuckoo | Koekoeā 

Red knot | Huahou 

Spotless crake | Pūweto 

Black-fronted tern | Tarapirohe 

Banded rail | Moho pererū 

Subantarctic snipe | Tutukiwi 

Grey duck | Pārera 

Scaup | Pāpango 

New Zealand dabchick | Weweia 

Pipit | Pīhoihoi 

Whitehead | Pōpokotea 

Australasian crested grebe | Pūteketeke 

Fernbird | Mātātā 

Shore plover | Tchūriwat’ | Tuturuatu 

Pied shag | Kāruhiruhi 

Wrybill | Ngutu pare 

Pīwauwau | Rock wren 

Kakī | Black stilt 

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