When I recently wrote an article on “Incongruous issues” I included amongst these this splendid souvenir-sheet based stamp of the Crowned Crane, designed and printed by the Inter-Government Philatelic Corporation (IGPC) for Liberia; and valued at $280.
The reason I considered that this issue was odd, centres upon the fact that the Grey Crowned Crane is not a native of Liberia, or West Africa, but is found more in Central and Southern parts of the African continent. Of course, the issue of this stamp well justified by the endangered status of this bird across Africa where it is present; as well as being part of Liberia’s “Birds of the World” series.
Still rolling backwards, we finally reach the initial five years of New Zealand’s Bird of the Year poll. These were the birds chosen from its introduction in 2005 up to 2009.
In the fifth year of the poll – 2009 – a Kiwi actually got a look in as a poll winner, although it was uncharitably dubbed by some as the, “flightless national bore.” What is less clear is which Kiwi won. Whilst this flightless bird is unique to New Zealand, there are actually five different species. The largest is the Roroa or Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx hasstii), which has vulnerable status and is found in areas of the South Island; the Little Spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii), the smallest species of all, weighing up to 1.9 kg and restricted to a few small offshore islands and protected mainland reserves; the Rowi or Okarito kiwi (Apteryx rowi) a recent addition that is scarce and found only in part of the Okarito forest on the West Coast of South Island; the Tokoeka or Southern Brown (Apteryx australis), also found only on South Island; and finally, the North Island Brown (Apteryx mantelli) is common across much of North Island. Oh, this one hold the world record for laying the largest eggs relative to its body size. Sounds painful.
New Zealand’s Bird of the Year Poll – the middle years Part 2: The winners 2010-2014
In the first of this small series of blogs about New Zealand’s Bird of the Year poll (Te Manu Rongonui o Te Tau) which has been run annually since 2005, I introduced the most recent five winners and then sought to match them with stamps that New Zealand had issued. This next set presents more winning birds and stamps and follows the same pattern, rolling backwards with each year’s winners. This time it’s the batch of five between 2010 and 2014.
In 2014 the Tara iti or Fairy Tern was the successful bird chosen. There are three sub-species found in the south-western Pacific and the one that breeds in northern New Zealand – the New Zealand Fairy Tern (Sternula nereis davisae) – is listed as critically endangered. Indeed, it is New Zealand’s rarest native breeding bird and it is believed that there are only about 40 birds remaining, nesting at very specific locations in North Island. Its status is highly precarious. In 2018/19 there were believed to be only five breeding pairs left with the sub-species threatened by introduced predators, weather, tidal conditions and coastal developments.
Regrettably, there is just a single stamp featuring the Tara iti, appropriately issued also in 2014 as part of a series of singles and a mini-sheet of endangered seabirds.
New Zealand’s Bird of the Year Poll – the most important election, after the real one
Part 1: The winners 2015-2019
New Zealand grabbed everyone’s attention recently with their generally successful response to the COVID virus. And then again with the general election that followed. That’s a pretty high amount of media attention for a country with a population of just over five million. Which, dare I utter it, is actually smaller than Scotland’s.
And New Zealand is not resting on its laurels either, for another great event has now just begun. Despite our own continuing but necessary focus on COVID, it is possible that the Eagle-eyed might just have spotted in recent news that New Zealand has just begun another election. It’s their annual “Bird of the Year” poll!
Starting from Monday, 2nd November and lasting until Sunday 15th November, voting opens for the 2020 event. New Zealanders are now keenly considering their top five choices for this year, with a winner selected after a number of eliminating rounds and then crowned Bird of the Year or in Maori, Te Manu Rongonui o Te Tau.