Dom George is the on-air producer for The Country.

Dom 'Furious' George - the Kea was robbed

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The uninspiring vote-pilfering Kokako. Photo / Greg Bowker
The uninspiring vote-pilfering Kokako. Photo / Greg Bowker

So it's emerged the Kokako has edged out the Kea in the annual Bird of the Year competition, which is quite frankly an outrage.

How the Kea doesn't win every year is beyond me. A record 20,000 people voted for their favourite New Zealand bird this year, with more than 3,600 giving the nod to the Kokako.

That's more than 1,000 votes than the Kea received and over 2,000 more than the fantail.

However, further investigation reveals something of a scandal in the ranks. The Kokako received an unfair advantage from a lobby group spearheaded by a 16-year-old Aucklander by the name of Oscar Thomas.

He's one of the youngest guides on Tiritiri Matangi Island and managed to solicit the support of a powerful ecological trust in the Bay of Plenty to sway the vote in favour previously unheralded Kokako.

In fact, last year it was the unwitting subject of a vote-fixing scandal after two 15-year-old girls broke all the rules by feverishly clicking away the hours and casting a swathe of illicit Kokako votes.

So what makes this bird so worthy of such a lofty title? Also known as the blue-wattled crow, it's found mainly in tall North Island native forest.

It was facing extinction a few years ago but, after some good concentrated predator control, numbers are now in the region of about 3000.

But the clincher appears to be its heavenly call, which has been described as both haunting and organ-like and apparently runs roughshod over the hitherto lauded call of the Tui.

Otherwise it's simply a large songbird with a blue/grey body, a sweet-looking black mask around its eyes and a bit of blue under the chin.

Even pseudo-celebrity endorsement by Kiwi (haha) ensemble Fly My Pretties failed to knock the Kokako off its perch (hahaha); their promise of free concert tickets for those who voted for the third-placed fantail proved futile (ha... nah)

Congratulations are therefore in order to those who rallied behind the cause of the Kokako, but when it comes to comparisons with the Kea, the charismatic alpine parrot wins by a mile.

I've always found them appealing, ever since one of them latched onto my car keys and wouldn't let them go.

The sign at the aviary said don't dangle anything in front of them, so naturally the keys came out of the pocket and were jangled mercilessly through the holes in the cage. I think I was 30 at the time and my boys thought it was a great laugh.

They soon beat a hasty retreat when one of the buggers made a play for a few little digits that were also poking through the netting - this kind of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do behaviour horrified their mother, but as I succinctly explained aviaries are boring places for young lads and at least the Kea provided a bit of entertainment.

No ice-cream for me then, but the boys had come to appreciate and respect some of our native fauna so I had clearly done a great job as a parent.

When you think about it, the kea should really be our national bird. It gained notoriety among the nation's first farmers as it would constantly attack their sheep.

It's a strong flyer, innately curious and attracted to people and their belongings; not my wife, the kea.

It can rip your car to pieces quicker than the proprietors of a Mataura chop shop and has even been known to enjoy a tipple or two courtesy of unsuspecting outdoor diners.

They're fiercely strong, remarkably intelligent and highly social, not to mention real survivors in the truest sense of the word.

In essence, they're the bird equivalent of your average New Zealander. You could say they parrot our existence (you're welcome).

They're the ornithological realisation of our own selves.

Compare that to the placid, useless and quite frankly boring national bird we're lumped with now - a major disappointment on all national bird fronts.

It's nothing like the Golden Eagles and Bearded Vultures that other countries boast.

So I say pick up your act New Zealand, shun the stupid Kiwi and raise a glass to the mighty Kea before it knocks it out of your hand, floor sucks the dregs and attacks you face!

Like I said, just like us, only a bird...

- The Country

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Dom George is the on-air producer for The Country.

Dom is Jamie Mackay's reluctant sidekick and long-suffering verbal punching bag. When he's not being abused at work he's being abused at home by his wife and kids. His cheery disposition is further enhanced by the fact that he has to get up at 4 am every day to host The Country Early Edition on Radio Sport. (5-6 am Tue-Sat). Tune in...if you dare.

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