Bird of the Year changes its voting system

Voting is almost open for New Zealand's second biggest election - Bird of the Year.

But this year Forest and Bird has changed the game. Rather than the traditional first-past-the-post process, Bird of the Year voters can now rank up to five birds.

"The new voting system means no one has the torturous job of picking just one favourite from all the incredible birds that call Aotearoa home," said spokesperson Megan Hubscher.

The new system is similar to Single Transferable Voting (STV). Voters choose their favourite bird (or politician) and put them first, followed by the rest of the candidates. 

STV means your vote can be transferred if your favourite candidate is so popular they don't need all their votes, or is so unpopular they need extra. For example, if you want the hoiho to win Bird of the Year you would put it first, followed by your second favourite, the kererū and so on.

If the hoiho got more votes than it needed to win, part of your vote is transferred to the kererū. Or, if the hohoi cannot possibly win and your vote won't make a difference, it will be transferred to the kererū.

Hubscher says the new voting system has allowed competitive campaign strategies to arise.

"A 'penguin party' has been negotiated between the different penguin species, with some powerful backers involved," she said.

"Kelly Tarlton's is supporting the hoiho/yellow eyed penguin, while Wellington Zoo is hoping to help out Wellington's tiny sushi lovers, the kororā/little blue.

"There are also underdog coalitions being formed, with team tuturuatu/shore plover and team hihi/stitchbird hoping to stitch up the competition with a two-tick campaign." 

New Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins recently won after picking up support from voters who initially backed other candidates in that city's STV mayoral election.

Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage is reportedly a supporter of the Gibson's albatross.

Voting will open on Monday and those wishing to vote for their favourite birds can do so here

The winning bird will be announced on Monday, November 11.