In his talk show ‘Last Week Tonight’, Oliver presents the pūteketeke as “a strange vomiting bird with a colorful neck carpet”. The bird is known for eating hundreds of feathers and then spitting them out. The pūteketeke is one of 75 birds in the annual online election. However, according to the organization, this year’s winner will also be declared ‘bird of the century’ because the organization behind the election, Forest & Bird, is celebrating its centenary this year.
Oliver wants the bird to win the election “in historic fashion” and has therefore started a “shockingly aggressive” ‘Lord of the Wings’ election campaign. He has had billboards placed in New Zealand, Japan, France, India and the American state of Wisconsin. “Help us crown a real king” is the slogan of the campaign in Britain. A plane with pūteketeke advertising also flew along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. “This is what democracy is about: America interfering in foreign elections,” Oliver joked in his TV program, where a meter-high version of the pūteketeke was also set up.
Previous editions of the pageant also caused controversy. For example, in 2020, fraudulent voting was done to help the little gray kiwi win, but the rock wren ultimately won. Two years ago a bat ran away with the win and last year the popular kakapo, a flightless parrot that is mainly active at night, was not allowed to participate to “give less charismatic candidates a chance”.