Kokako's huge support from a small fan

Oscar Thomas snapping a shot of a Weka at the Pancake Rocks in January this year.
Supplied.

Oscar Thomas snapping a shot of a Weka at the Pancake Rocks in January this year.

The New Zealand kokako's biggest fan, and perhaps one of its youngest, is tracking for success in this year's Forest & Bird 'Bird of the Year' campaign.

Fifteen-year-old Oscar Thomas is the kokako's campaign manager and has been tasked with rallying votes for the flightless bird, which is currently sitting in second place in the competition. 

The campaign plan is simple, but effective: Oscar has recruited friends and family to share the kokako campaign with everyone they know. 

Oscar's love for the endangered kokako began back in 2010, when he learnt about the species on a school trip to wildlife sanctuary Tiritiri Matangi Island. 

"I liked the elusiveness of the bird. We didn't see them that day, but I was determined to find one."

And Thomas eventually did.

Oscar Thomas'  'Green Peak' flag represents today's New Zealand, featuring the native Kokako.
Supplied

Oscar Thomas' 'Green Peak' flag represents today's New Zealand, featuring the native Kokako.

The Rosmini College student had the opportunity to photograph a kokako at the Hamilton Zoo in 2012, and his passion and knowledge of them has soared onwards and upwards since.

He is undertaking training at Tiritiri Matangi, where he will become New Zealand's youngest tour guide. 

The kokako is Thomas' firm favourite - largely due to its exclusivity to New Zealand, but his interest and concern also extends to the 51 other native New Zealand birds vying for the Forest & Bird title.

Bird of the Year coordinator Kimberley Collins said Thomas' efforts show promise for the future of New Zealand's environment.

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"It's great to see someone in the next generation that is really interested in protecting the environment and the wildlife."

A driving feature in Thomas' campaign had been five flag designs incorporating the kokako, which he concocted as spin-offs of the five flags included in the national referendum. 

Thomas may not be old enough to vote, but he is a Red Peak supporter.

The inspiration for his Green Peak flag came from the controversial design.

"People like the current affairs stuff - I figured the Green Peak flag would attract attention."

It hasn't been all plain sailing for Thomas and the kōkako - on Thursday night someone tampered with the online voting system, causing Thomas's votes to illicitly skyrocket.

The illegal votes were promptly removed by Forest & Bird.

The competition closes at 5pm on Sunday.

Voters can have their say at www.birdoftheyear.org.nz.

 - Stuff

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