As Forest & Bird, the organization behind the election, celebrates its centenary this year, the pūteketeke has also become the “Bird of the Century.” The bird received 290,374 votes, leaving numbers two and three, the North Island kiwi (12,904 votes) and the kea (12,060 votes) far behind.
Oliver wanted the pūteketeke to win the election in “historic fashion” and began a “shockingly aggressive” election campaign for “Lord of the Wings”, which clearly paid off. He placed meter-high billboards in New Zealand, Japan, France, India and the US state of Wisconsin, campaigned in Great Britain and flew a plane carrying pūteketeke advertisements along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. He also appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show to campaign for pūteketeke.
Meanwhile, campaign managers for the other 74 nominated birds – including the kiwi – didn’t leave it at that. With a wink, they called on the New Zealand public to “resist American interference” and, above all, to vote for their birds. In response to perceived “American interference” in bird elections, New Zealanders voted en masse.
The contest received a record number of more than 350,000 verified votes from 195 countries, causing the verification system to crash and the voting results to be delayed for two days. “We promised controversy, but we didn’t quite expect it. We are delighted to see the passion, creativity and debate this campaign has sparked,” said Nicola Toki, CEO of competition organizer Forest & Bird.
Toki also announced that thousands of votes had to be invalidated due to fraud, including 40,000 votes cast by one person for Penguin.
Following the news that pūteketeke Oliver had beaten the competition, New Zealand’s newly elected Prime Minister congratulated him on social media X.
“Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert.”