Bird of the Century: John Oliver rips into 'rat carrying a toothpick' kiwi, 'pigeon in a tanktop' kererū in fiery tirade

US TV host John Oliver has taken pot-shots at some of New Zealand's most iconic birds, calling the kiwi a 'rat carrying a toothpick', despite claiming he "loves" Aotearoa.   

It comes a week after Oliver launched an "alarmingly aggressive" campaign for pūteketeke to win Bird of the Century, which involved billboards in countries across the world.   

Advertisement in Paris (top left), London (top right), Manitowoc City in Wisconsin (bottom left) and in Brazil (bottom right).
Advertisement in Paris (top left), London (top right), Manitowoc City in Wisconsin (bottom left) and in Brazil (bottom right). Photo credit: Supplied

But not everyone was happy with Oliver's campaign, with the Vote Kiwi campaigner, Erin Reilly, telling Newshub it's a case of a "B- grade American celeb" interfering in Aotearoa's affairs and saying she believes he "doesn't like birds".  

"Now I'm insulted," Oliver said in response. "Not because of the B-grade American celebrity part, that's honestly generous, how dare you say I don't like birds. I love them, I just don't like your one."   

On the latest edition of his show Last Week Tonight, Oliver addressed the response to his campaign.   

In the segment, Oliver rips into the pūteketeke's competitors including the Kiwi which he said looked like 'Donkey Kong's hairy testicle" and a "rat carrying a toothpick".  

He then took aim at the kererū, which he described as a "pigeon in a tanktop".  

But despite accidentally mixing up New Zealand for Australia in a Jimmy Fallon interview last week, Oliver insisted Aotearoa is the "most fascinating country on earth" and that he "f*****g loves" New Zealand.    

"New Zealand you're so good at not just talking shit but taking it with remarkable good humour," he said.   

To highlight this, he pointed to former finance minister Steven Joyce being hit with a dildo at Waitangi in 2016 and the Laser Kiwi flag.    

"You're an endless well of joy, honestly I'd talk about you every week if it weren't for all the other crazy shit going on in the world. I would rename this show New Zealand Tonight with John Oliver and it would be an immediate improvement," he said.   

But he insisted "all your birds are great".   

"It would be an honour to lose to any of them... but we're not going to lose, are we?"  

"We're going to win, and we're going to win by a lot."  

Voting for the Bird of the Century competition closed on Sunday. The winner was due to be announced on Monday but Forest and Bird said last week it was delayed until Wednesday because of "unprecedented voting volume".

Watch the video above.