Fraudulent Bird of the Year votes ruffle feathers gallery

The New Zealand Kōkako.
CHERYL MARRINER/SUPPLIED

The New Zealand Kōkako.

Forest & Bird's annual Bird of the Year campaign was briefly hijacked by a couple of over-zealous kōkako lovers who lodged hundreds of illegal votes from a hacked computer.

The fraudulent votes sent the kōkako briefly to first place, before the bird's campaign leader himself detected foul play.

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While most voters were nesting down for the night, fake votes were identified by young Oscar Thomas, who informed Bird of the Year coordinator Kimberley Collins.

"I was at home when I received a Facebook message from Oscar. He was concerned about the kōkako votes - which had been jumping up rapidly in the past hour."

Collins tracked the fraudulent votes back to the same IP address, tracked the culprit's Twitter account, and sent him a tweet.

A tweet was sent back from an apologetic father, whose 15 year-old twins had managed to use their parents' business account to make hundreds of fake emails with which to vote.

Oscar Thomas helping release a Kokako in the Waitakere Ranges recently. Also pictured are Deja Rivera and Hazel Speed.
Supllied

Oscar Thomas helping release a Kokako in the Waitakere Ranges recently. Also pictured are Deja Rivera and Hazel Speed.

Thomas was disappointed that someone would tamper with the voting system, but managed to see the funny side of things.

"The council of kōkako does not condone this whatsoever", said the 15 year-old. 

Collins said Forest & Bird had no plans to reprimand the two girls - because at the end of the day it was another couple of young people interested in conservation.

"If we can channel their energy in rigging the competition and obvious passion for the kōkako into doing something active for New Zealand conservation, that would be great."

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"We do get people who get over-zealous in wanting a particular bird to win. People get really passionate."

The rules for Bird of the Year allow one vote per person, so all but one of the twins' votes have been discounted. 

Votes for the campaign close at 5pm on Sunday

Until then, Forest and Bird will be keeping a close eye on voters.

 - Stuff

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