Te Manu Rongonui O Te Tau Bird of the Year 2022

The underbirds are go! New Zealand’s birds are amazing, and some of the least known are even more amazing. Are you ready to discover some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s best-kept secrets? It’s the underbirds’ time to shine!

Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition aims to raise awareness of New Zealand’s endangered bird species, and every year Kiwi flock to the polls to decide who will take out the top honour.

Right now, 80% of our birds are in trouble. Climate change and habitat destruction are big threats to all our native species. If we protect and restore our rivers, forests, oceans, and climate, we can bring our native wildlife back from the brink.

Kakī – Black Stilt
Staunch, fierce, rare, and beautiful, the kakī exemplify all the qualities of true New Zealanders. Once common and widespread throughout most of Aotearoa, these long-legged charmers are now only found in the braided river habitats of the Mackenzie Basin. Kakī found itself on the brink of extinction by the 1980s, with only 23 birds left in the wild. Thanks to conservation efforts, numbers are slowly increasing with 169 adults in the wild. When we think of birds that matter, think of the courageous kakī. The bird that came back from the brink. Kia kaha kakī!

Tarapirohe – Black-fronted Tern 
A slate-grey bird that wears a black cap (just like our cricketers) with a bright orange bill, the black-fronted tern is found nesting on Canterbury’s braided rivers. When they’re not breeding, you can see them in coastal areas across New Zealand. But always look around you, they are territorial and love to dive-bomb intruders!

Pūteketeke – Australasian Crested Grebe
You may know of the Australasian crested grebe by the unusual way they carry their chicks – on their back when they are swimming. They forage within high country lakes, particularly shallow lakes with fringes of vegetation. Watch out for their floating nests, which they anchor to the side of the lake.

Pārera – Grey Duck
The grey duck has striking facial stripes, a leaden grey bill and a green patch of colour on its secondary flight feathers. These features separate this handsome native from the blue-tinted speculum of the introduced mallard hens and scruffy hybrids.

Bird of The Year is one example of Kiwi working together to protect our birds for future generations. But it isn’t the only thing we’re doing to make New Zealand predator free by 2050. We are also innovating. Here are two of our favourite innovations.

The Squawk Squad is a tech start-up that has engaged over 50,000 Kiwi kids in conservation, and Smart Eggs are stand-in Kākāpō eggs that mimic the real deal which allows DOC Rangers to switch them out to protect them from predators until they hatch. 
It’s the 17th Bird of the Year competition and voting is open now until 30th October with the winner announced Monday 31st October. Find out more about these birds, and vote for your favourite at  
Looking for somewhere that puts birdlife in the spotlight? We know a place.