The puking bird won the New Zealand bird competition after the John Oliver campaign. The puking, growling, and strange mating habits of the puteketeke bird have earned it the title of Bird of the Century in New Zealand. However, the involvement of American-British comedian John Oliver in the competition has caused controversy among the locals.
Voters select their favorite New Zealand bird each year in the Bird of the Year competition, which will be renamed Bird of the Century in 2023 to commemorate the centennial of conservation organization Forest & Bird.
Oliver, a British-American comedian, took advantage of a flaw in the system in 2023 that lets anybody vote for a bird from anywhere.
As campaign manager for the burnt orange-mulleted puteketeke, Oliver urged viewers to vote for the bird during his weekly segment, promoted it on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and put up capital letters on his signs.
The kakapo parrot and the kiwi, New Zealand’s national bird, are among the birds that campaign managers for other birds criticized and urged voters to support them.
“We expected controversy, but we weren’t prepared for this.” Nicola Toki, CEO of competition organizer Forest & Bird, stated, “We’re thrilled to see the outpouring of passion, creativity, and debate this campaign has ignited.”
In large numbers, New Zealanders flocked to the polls to protest what they regarded as “American interference” in the bird election.
A record-breaking 350,000 validated votes were cast in the competition from 195 countries, disrupting the verification system and causing a two-day delay in the results.
According to Toki, thousands of votes—40,000 of which were cast for a penguin by a single voter—had to be disqualified as fake. Another Pennsylvanian, one every three seconds, cast 3,403 ballots for their preferred option.
Oliver’s choice topped out the competition, and the prime minister-elect of New Zealand thanked him on X, the old name for Twitter.
The puteketeke makes grunting and growling noises, eats its feathers to line its stomach, then vomits to get rid of parasites, and performs mating dances like the “weed dance,” in which the birds offer each other water weed, and the “ghostly penguin,” in which they rise chest to chest while walking on water.