The pīwauwau rock wren, a diminutive mountain-dwelling underdog, has come out on prime in New Zealand’s annual hen of the yr competitors after a hard-fought marketing campaign once more marked by controversy.
The uncommon alpine species – which weighs lower than 20g, about as a lot as a MallowPuff biscuit – beat out quite a lot of higher-profile and charismatic opponents.
“Except you’d spent a while within the mountains, you’d most likely by no means heard of a rock wren till two weeks in the past,” mentioned Stephen Day, who led a marketing campaign for the pīwauwau. “We’re so pleased pīwauwau are lastly having their time within the highlight.”
The mountainous species captured a slim win over the kororā penguin, which obtained extra No 1 votes however misplaced out on the transferable vote system.
The competitors isn’t any stranger to controversy. Final yr organisers brought on outcry by permitting a local bat to enter – and win. This yr they courted controversy once more by barring the kākāpō – the world’s fattest parrot – as a result of it had gained too many occasions (twice in 14 years).
The competitors attracts headlines and political endorsements throughout New Zealand. The Nationwide get together chief, Christopher Luxon, made a proper announcement on Sunday endorsing the wrybill, a river hen believed to have the world’s solely asymmetrical beak – it curves to the correct. The Inexperienced MP Chlöe Swarbrick ran a marketing campaign for the kororā, and greeted information of the penguin’s slim loss by expressing “heartbreak” on the “hard-fought” final result.
The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, didn’t endorse a hen this yr however, when questioned by reporters concerning the final result, mentioned she was loyal to the black petrel, which she has beforehand described as “the bogan of the birds”.
The election is run by the conservation organisation Forest and Hen to lift consciousness of New Zealand’s native hen life. Its chief govt, Nicola Toki, mentioned a vote for pīwauwau was “a vote for local weather motion”.
“As Aotearoa’s solely true alpine hen, these tiny wrens are already feeling the impacts of hotter temperatures, which permit predators like rats and stoats to climb increased and invade their mountaintop houses.”