Bird of the Century: Adult Toy Megastore shares why they are backing 'sex-positive' hihi after John Oliver shout-out

In case you missed it, New Zealand's Bird of the Century competition is underway and in a headline-grabbing move, US talk show host John Oliver of all people has entered the chat: launching an "alarmingly aggressive" global campaign for his favourite feathery candidate. But he's not the only one to publicly endorse one of our native birds.   

For the uninitiated, Bird of the Century is a play on Forest & Bird's Bird of the Year contest: an annual election to crown the country's favourite feathered friend. To mark Forest & Bird's 100th birthday, this year's competition is instead searching for Bird of the Century, with New Zealanders urged to vote for a native bird from the last 100 years that has "captured their heart".  

In this week's episode of Oliver's show Last Week Tonight, the comedian urged his viewers to flood the ballot with votes for the pūteketeke, or the Australasian crested grebe: a bird he is apparently so passionate about, he decided it was worthy of an international crusade.  

This crusade included billboards next to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, a cartoon advert emblazoned on one of Tokyo's busiest intersections, more billboards in Mumbai and London, a 'Lord of the Wings' poster on a bus shelter in Auckland, and an airborne banner flown above Brazil's Ipanema Beach.  

However, Oliver's report also highlighted another cornerstone of New Zealand culture: Adult Toy Megastore (Adulttoymegastore), the country's largest online adult retailer. In the segment, he noted that his "favourite endorsement" of a candidate was the retailer's public pledge of support for the hihi, also known as the stitchbird, in 2021.

So, what exactly does an adult toy retailer have to do with a native bird? On Tuesday, founder and owner Nicola Relph decided to clear up the matter by sharing why the hihi and Adulttoymegastore are, in fact, birds of a feather - and why the rare creature will again get her vote for this year's Bird of the Century. 

Reason number one? "They are proud owners of the largest testicles of any bird (4x larger than the size proportionate to their body)," Relph shared.  

Reason number two? "They are extremely sex-positive, as polyamorous idols of the bird kingdom."  

And the third reason: "They have a curved bill and enviably long tongue."  

John Oliver screengrab alongside Adulttoymegastore endorsement for hihi
John Oliver shouted out Adulttoymegastore's public pledge of support for the hihi in 2021 as his "favourite endorsement" - and they're once again endorsing the bird this year. Photo credit: HBO

"We choose to endorse the hihi largely because we are kindred spirits. While Adulttoymegastore is all about leading the sex-positive movement in society, the hihi have got it covered in bird kingdom," Relph said. "Not only are they a rarity in practicing consensual polyamory, but they are also the only bird in the world to mate face-to-face.   

"At our core, Adulttoymegastore is dedicated to embracing love and intimacy in all their colourful variations. The polyamorous nature of the hihi is a testament to the beauty of embracing different forms of connections and relationships, and a reminder that love knows no boundaries.  

"Four times larger than what is proportionate to their body size, the hihi boast the biggest testicles in all of the bird kingdom (relative to size), and we for one think that is worth celebrating. Enormous testicles are by no means a requirement for sexual liberation, but with balls bigger than their brains, at the very least, the hihi deserves a bit of recognition for carrying the weight of them around all day.    

"The hihi faces the threat of endangerment and is in serious trouble. We'd love to draw some attention to the beauty of this species and place our full support behind its campaign for Bird of the Century."  

According to Forest & Bird, the hihi is one of Aotearoa's rarest birds, with its status currently listed as threatened/nationally vulnerable. The name 'stitchbird' is believed to come from their high-pitched, 'zit tzit' whistle. As Relph pointed out, the curved bill and long tongue are used to reach into flowers to consume nectar.

the hihi
The "sex-positive, polyamorous" hihi. Photo credit: jgraham via Forest & Bird

But whether or not Adulttoymegastore's endorsement of the polyamorous hihi will be enough to overthrow Oliver's 'Lord of the Wings' campaign remains to be seen: the comedian himself pointed out that as voting only requires a valid email address, overseas voters have a shot at stacking the competition.

"The good news is New Zealand's contest is not actually restricted to just New Zealand. Anyone in the world can vote as long as they have a valid email and not just that, Forest & Bird themselves said they encourage anyone who is passionate about their favourite native bird to campaign throughout the competition and by now, I'm pretty sure you know where this is going," Oliver declared on the show.

"I don't just want the pūteketeke to win, I want it to win in the biggest landslide in the history of this magnificent competition. After all, this is what democracy is all about - America interfering in foreign elections."  

A Forest & Bird spokesperson told Newshub despite the website having some "wobbles" following the segment airing in the US, all the votes would be counted.

"Forest & Bird was stoked when Last Week Tonight with John Oliver approached us earlier in the year to be a campaign manager for pūteketeke, an underappreciated native bird that is 'nationally vulnerable' with fewer than 1000 left in New Zealand," the spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"It was so exciting to see the segment air last night. The show's commitment to backing their bird, and all New Zealand birds, was seriously impressive. We've seen a huge influx of thousands of votes overnight and our voting system had some wobbles but we can assure all voters that their votes will be counted."

People that want to vote for the hihi, pūteketeke, or any other candidate can go to - voting closes at 5pm this Sunday.