- Publish Date
- Monday, 11 November 2019, 11:45AM
The Yellow-eyed penguin or Hoiho has been crowned the Bird of the Year for 2019.
It's the first win for seabirds in the competition's 14 year history.
It was neck and neck with the kākāpō for much of the two week competition - only edging ahead in the final few days.
"It was so close between these two amazing endangered birds, it was impossible to predict a winner for most of the competition," said Forest & Bird spokesperson Megan Hubscher.
The hoiho is the world's rarest penguin, with only 225 pairs remaining on mainland New Zealand in 2018/19.
Hoiho face numerous threats including warming oceans leading to changes in food availability, bottom trawling damaging feeding grounds, being caught in fishing nets, and disturbance from humans.
In the competition the hoiho benefited from the early creation of a 'penguin coalition' between all four of the penguin campaign teams - hoiho, korora, tawaki and rockhopper - who pledged to back each other under the STV voting system.
The hoiho campaign also had backing from Dunedin rockers The Chills and two Dunedin Mayors.
Hoiho was teased for being the bird most likely to take a date to McDonald's for a Fillet-O-Fish.
Article originally published in the NZ Herald and republished here with permission.