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Thursday, 21 February 2019 11:39 am

The $50 songster winging its way to top of popularity stakes

Aug 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout, News

TOP BIRDS: Top, from left: Kea, kokako, tui and falcon. Bottom, from left: Kaka, hihi and kakapo.

 FEW people have ever seen the rare bird showing out as early leader in this year’s “bird of the year” competition.

Unless they’ve flipped over something a lot more common, the $50 note.

With 95 public votes out of 1200 cast so far, the kokako, a close relative of the extinct huia, leads this year’s Bird of the Year competition run by the Forest and Bird Society.

Not many can claim to have seen the North island Kokako in reality, but has become an icon of wealth after being placed on the reverse side of the $50 note in 1992, replacing the morepork.

The kokako is one of two wattlebirds left in New Zealand, with its relative the tieke (saddleback).

It is renowned for its “harmonious duets before dawn” where other kokako are known to join in as a choir.

The competition, which opened to the public this week and runs until October 10, is already set to start a war of the birds, with votes rolling in consistently.

Close behind with 76 votes is the kaka, a native parrot to New Zealand, and known for its unique, screeching call.

The kaka is fond of flying over valleys and nesting in high treetops.

It is famous for being very sociable, often flying in large groups and “gossiping”, and joining with the kea, a close relative.

Kaka campaign manager Rachel Anderson-Smith remains positive her bird will beat the kokako and other competitors this year.

“While the kokako is scarce and somewhat elitist, it will be the kaka that brings the strut back into New Zealand birdlife,” she says.

“It is a vocal champion for protecting all of our native species and has led by example by enthusiastically repopulating Wellington.”

Mrs Anderson-Smith has dedicated a large amount of time to helping to raise awareness of the bird, which is breeding rapidly in Wellington’s Zealandia wildlife sanctuary.

She believes the kaka is the best option to represent all birds to the public.

“Even if you like another bird, you should still vote for the kaka because it is more than capable of being a vocal champion of all the birds.”

Other popular contenders include the hihi, the kea, the tui, the kakapo and the NZ falcon.

For people who want to vote, click HERE>

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is a Whitireia journalism student.
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  1. Just going to put it out there that the Saddleback / Tieke is looking strong this year. The video is slick https://vimeo.com/48861251 so check it out. It is Tieke Twelve, year of the Saddleback, after all.

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