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John Oliver And His ‘Bird Of The Year’ Chaos Are Throwing New Zealand Into Delightful Disarray: ‘Crazy In The Best Possible Way’

John Oliver New Zealand Bird Vote Puteketeke

Last week, John Oliver crashed the website for Forest and Bird, a New Zealand conservation group that runs an annual Bird of the Year vote. The late night host launched what he’s admittedly called an “alarmingly aggressive” campaign urging people to vote for the pūteketeke, a rare water bird that may just be Oliver’s spirit animal.

“They have a mating dance where they both grab a clump of wet grass and chest bump each other before standing around unsure of what to do next,” Oliver said. “I’ve never identified with anything more in my life.”

However, Oliver’s attention to the contest not only caused the website to crash, but the results had to be delayed as Forest and Bird struggled to keep up with the overwhelming amount of votes pouring in. But to be clear, Forest and Bird aren’t mad. They are absolutely loving the chaos.

“It’s been pretty crazy, in the best possible way,” Chief Executive Nicola Toki told the Associated Press.

Turns out, Oliver had asked the group for permission before launching the campaign. Forest and Bird gave him the green light and severely underestimated Oliver’s zealousness:

Toki said that when the contest began in 2005, they had a total of 865 votes, which they considered a great success. That grew to a record 56,000 votes two years ago, she said, a number that was surpassed this year within a couple of hours of Oliver launching his campaign.

Toki said Oliver contacted the group earlier this year asking if he could champion a bird. They had told him to go for it, not realizing what was to come.

“I was cry laughing,” Toki said when she watched Oliver’s segment.

Not only did Forest and Bird embrace the chaos, but so did Oliver. After learning that he’d crashed the site and delayed the winning results, the Last Week Tonight host taunted his fellow competitors who were about to be crushed by pūteketeke fever.

“For the record, all of your birds are great. And it would be an honor to lose to any of them when results are announced on Wednesday,” Oliver said. “And the reason it’s so easy for me to say that is, we’re not gonna lose are we? We’re gonna win, and we’re gonna win by a lot. And when we do that, the pūteketeke will be your Bird of the Century, and there’s nothing any of you can do to stop that right now.”

(Via Associated Press)