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New Zealanders flock to the polls to vote for Bird of the Year

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Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition begins Monday, 1 October.

Forest & Bird is asking New Zealanders to vote for their favourite native bird in an annual competition that aims to raise awareness of the threats facing some of New Zealand’s most iconic species.

The competition involves enthusiastic New Zealanders campaigning for their chosen bird using creativity, humour and some borderline tactics to get votes.

“The competition can be fierce, and people find all sorts of creative and underhand ways to promote their bird,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson Megan Hubscher.

“We’ve had campaign managers making videos, costumes, websites, designing memes, and trash talking other birds.”

Ms Hubscher says the competition has fired up early this year, long before voting even opened.

"Shots have already been fired between the takahē and pūkeko teams, while team kakī has set the standard with some very creative memes.”

“The serious message behind this fun competition is that our native birds are in real trouble. Eighty percent of our native birds are threatened with extinction. Introduced predators, habitat loss, and climate change are all major threats, but the good news is, we can act to help to turn things around.”

Bird of the Year is one of Forest & Bird's most popular annual events and attracted over 40,000 votes last year.

“Last year’s winner, the kea, swooped ahead of the competition winning by 2739 votes, which is quite incredible in a First Past the Post system with over 50 competitors,” says Ms Hubscher.

Voting begins at 9am on Monday 1 October and closes at 5pm on Sunday 14 October, with the winner announced at 9am Monday 15 October.

Follow the competition at www.birdoftheyear.org.nz and #birdoftheyear

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