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Kokako named bird of the year

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/10/2016
North Island Kokako © Getty North Island Kokako

The kokako has soared past its competition to be voted as New Zealand's bird of the year.

The slate-grey native bird, easily recognised by its black mask and blue wattles, has edged out the kea and fantail to be named Forest and Bird's Bird of the Year for 2016.

The kokako came picked up 3600 votes in the annual contest, well ahead of the second-placed kea with 2600.

The fantail - or Piwakawaka - came in third with 1500 votes.

Aucklander Oscar Thomas, 16, who organised the kokako campaign this year, said he had been fascinated with the bird's distinctive, organ-like call since he was 10.

"It has the most beautiful call of all New Zealand's birds and it's the loudest in the forest. It sings with a deep, five-note call that makes the tui sound like an elaborate train wreck," he said.

The kokako was previously threatened with only about 660 left in 1999.

Since then, the population has jumped back up to about 3000 due to predator control and translocation efforts - although the bird remains vulnerable to predators.

But while the kokako was well clear of its competition this year, last time it got relegated to second spot amid a voting scandal.

Organiser found two young fans had voted for the kokako 200 times, pushing it into the lead until they were found out.

Now in its 12th year, the competition raises awareness for New Zealand's much-loved native birds and the threats they face.

Previous Bird of the Year Winners:

2015: Bar Tailed Godwit (Kuaka)

2014: Fairy Tern (Tara Iti)

2013: Yellowhead (Mohua)

2012: New Zealand Falcon (Karearea)

2011: Pukeko

2010: Kakariki

2009: Kiwi

2008: Kakapo

2007: Grey Warbler (Riroriro)

2006: Fantail (Piwakawaka)

2005: Tui

Source: Forest and Bird

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