Kererū soars away with Bird of the Year win

The kererū has taken out this year's Bird of the Year competition.

Collecting a total of 5833 votes, the kererū cooed its way to the top of the voting early, and managed to cling to the lead against strong competition from the kākāpō and the kakī.

The kererū campaign was led by a strong team this year, including Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who helped to create memes to gather support for the native wood pigeon.

Team kererū co-campaigner Tim Onnes thanked New Zealanders for voting "overwhelmingly for change."

"It has been a long and arduous campaign," he said, "and we couldn't have done it without their support".

Even Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern broke her month-long Twitter silence to congratulate the newly crowned kererū.

The kererū was one of the few birds on the list that is not endangered, but Forest and Bird stressed the importance of the large bird for spreading seeds that cannot be swallowed by other natives. 

The annual competition run by Forest and Bird has been shrouded in controversy, with voting scandals and smear campaigns pitting birds against their native rivals.

Last year's competition was marred by voter fraud and one particular brutal campaign for the black-billed gull, whose Instagram fan page gathered hundreds of likes for memes deeming the kiwi a "fat, flightless f***" and the white faced heron "racist".

This year was not without scandal either, with 310 votes for the shag being cast from Australia in one night, and the Kakī dramatically climbing the ranks due to 1525 false votes over the weekend.

Co-campaign Manager for the kerurū, Chlöe Swarbrick, said she was proud of the win.

"Now, at long last the mighty kererū has swooped to glory, knocking the kea off its perch. May this majestic bird, the labrador of the sky, consume many a berry on this special day," she said.

The Bird of the Year competition aims to raise awareness for native birds, their habitats, and threats they face.