The Bird of the Year competition has once again fallen prey to a voting scandal as enthusiasts aim to see their favourite bird rule the roost.
People are only allowed one vote in the competition to select New Zealand's most beloved bird, but one fan set up fake email accounts from the same Christchurch IP address and made 112 fraudulent votes for the white-faced heron.
Two years ago, two teenage girls also tried to rig the results in favour of the kōkako.
Bird of the Year coordinator Kimberly Collins said the competition showed how much New Zealanders love their native birds.
"I've certainly seen people taking the competition way too seriously. I don't think that's a bad thing, I think good on them for going to those lengths to vote for their favourite bird.
"We're not mad, just impressed that someone cares enough to rig the whole competition."
Ms Collins said they believe the culprit was looking to sneakily add the votes each night while everyone was sleeping.
"We do hope the weight of their conscience will prompt them to make a donation to our appeal."
She said anyone else wanting to contribute money towards helping local bird species can do so via the Forest and Bird website.
"People don't realise our birds are in crisis, one in three are at risk of becoming extinct," she said.
Voting is open until 23 October - the kea has the most votes so far.