New Zealand reacts to John Oliver's 'alarmingly aggressive' Bird of the Century campaign

Claudia Robin Gunn is gunning for the robin to be named bird of the century.

"They have cute round tummies," Gunn said. "I can't do a good impression, it would be better if I was still pregnant."

She is one of many campaigning for New Zealand's (sometimes) flying taonga. And while Gunn has even written a song in support of the toutouwai / New Zealand robin, it may not be enough.

John Oliver, one of the biggest names in US late-night television, has weighed in on Forest and Bird's Bird of the Century campaign.

"We are hereby announcing ourselves as the official campaign manager for the best candidate of New Zealand's bird of the century. I am of course talking about the pūteketeke."

Campaigning in Mumbai, Tokyo and Brazil - his show has made the competition global.

"We're all pretty chuffed it's fair to say," Forest and Bird chief executive Nicola Toki told Newshub.

"Since the show aired - 50,000 votes have poured in. Last year the total number of votes was 52,000 so it's definitely nudged it up a bit."

There have been so many votes it temporarily broke the voting system.

"It wobbled a little bit. I'm thinking I might have to bring in the Electoral Commission to give me a hand."

But all of John Oliver's work, including a 'Lord of the Wings' poster at a Wellington bus stop, may not convince Kiwis.

When Newshub asked a passer-by if they'd be voting for the pūteketeke, they replied: "Not off the basis of that photo, no."

He's not the only one.

Kiwi campaigner Erin Reilly on Tuesday called Oliver's campaign "fowl play".

"[He's] a 'B' grade American celebrity coming out and essentially high-jacking Bird of the Century," she said. "I don't even think he likes birds." 

Reilly believes kiwis are a much better vote.

"When you think of New Zealand you think of the kiwi. We are literally 'Kiwis'."

Even campaigners for extinct birds think they're in with a chance.

And for Huia Wesling-MacGregor it's personal.

"My nan obviously knew what she was doing when she named me."

So while the pūteketeke will take some beating, Kiwis have until Sunday to have their say.