Topics: Entertainment, Environment, Rereātea - Midday News

Kererū wins Bird of the Year

By Jessica Tyson

The kererū has swooped to glory and, for the first time, has won Forest & Bird's annual Bird of the Year competition.

Amassing a total 5833 votes, the kereru whooshed ahead despite strong challenges from the kākāpō and the kakī.

The competition attracted over 48,000 votes this year while raising awareness of New Zealand's unique native birds and the threats they face. 

While the kererū population is classed as stable overall, Forest & Bird says it is in danger of becoming locally extinct in some areas where there has not been sustained predator control.

“The fate of many forests is linked to that of the kererū, as it's the only native bird big enough to swallow and disperse the large fruit of karaka, miro, tawa and taraire,” the conservation group said in a statement.

Kererū wins Bird of the Year for 2018 - Photo / File

To Māori, the plump kererū was an important source of food, being plentiful and tasty eating, according to Te Ara Encyclopedia.

“In one tradition, it gained its striking plumage when the demigod Māui, trying to find out where his mother went each day, hid her skirt to delay her.

“When she went to the underworld without it, Māui changed into a white pigeon and followed her. He was still holding the skirt, which became the kererū’s white breast and purple-green neck feathers.”

Kererū aka kūkupa, kūkū or hemiphaga novaeseelandiae - Photo / File

Other highlights of the competition this year were when Bird of the Year featured on Tinder for the first time, with Shelly the kakī, or black stilt, attracting 500 matches across New Zealand.

There was also attempted international election fowl-play when IP addresses in Australia sent through over 300 votes for the shag, and then over 1500 for the kakī.

However, these attempts were thwarted by Forest & Bird's hawk-eyed election scrutineer at Dragonfly Data Science.