Hours left to vote in Bird of the Year

There’s just hours left to vote in one of New Zealand’s most fiercely contested elections, Bird of the Year.

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The competition is the 14th annual campaign from Forest and Bird to raise awareness around endangered species. Source: 1 NEWS

It’s the 14th campaign from Forest and Bird to raise awareness about some of the country’s most endangered species.

This year, the organisation was forced to change its voting process following a hacking scandal.

Forest and Bird spokesperson Megan Hubscher said there was a new voting verification system in place.

"People will have seen an email come through once they've voted asking for them to confirm they're a real person and not a robot that's been set up to fill in fake email addresses,” she said.

The event has gained momentum since it first started in 2005. This year, votes have been cast from 83 different countries.

“We’ve had Stephen Fry tweeting to his 17 million followers about the kakapo," Ms Hubscher said.

"We know that our birds in New Zealand are amazing and it’s no surprise that people around the world find them amazing as well." 

Last year the kereru was crowned winner. It’s a bird Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins feels a personal connection with.

“I’ve been a long-time campaigner for the keruru. It’s my spirit animal based on mostly physique and lifestyle options,” Mr Hawkins said.

But Central Otago’s very own hohoi, otherwise known as the yellow-eyed penguin, is facing serious threats of becoming extinct. This has prompted Mr Hawkins to change suit.

While some of the campaigns have earned a reputation for its entertainment factor, Forest and Bird are confident the main message is still getting across.

Ms Hubscher said: “Bird of the Year is definitely a lot of fun, but there is a serious message behind it and I think that New Zealander’s do understand the message that two thirds of our native birds are endanger of going extinct."

Voting closes at midnight. The winner will be announced on Monday morning.