Andrew Bird rose to the elite of New Zealand rowing just in time for the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, the last time rowing was held at the Commonwealth Games.
Greymouth-born Bird had moved to the Waikato and developed his skills as a cox by the time coach Richard Webster decided he was the man to guide the coxed four at the Commonwealth Games. The oarsmen – Bird, Nigel Atherfold, Chris White, Bruce Holden and Greg Johnston - won the silver medal and, even more impressively, also won the silver medal at that year’s world championships, in Nottingham, England.
Bird was promoted to cox of the New Zealand eight for the 1987 world championships, at Copenhagen, Denmark, and then in 1988 he settled with the coxed four for the pre-Olympic European tour, and for the Seoul Olympics. The composition of the four changed during the year, but at the Olympics the four oarsmen whom Bird coxed were Chris White, Greg Johnston, Ian Wright and George Keys.
The New Zealanders finished third in their heat, third in the semi-final and in the final trailed East Germany and Romania but comfortably held off Great Britain and the United States for third.
Bird was first involved in rowing at national level for the Avon club in Christchurch and then moved north to Hamilton. He joined the powerful Waikato Rowing Club, which had so many outstanding oarsmen and coxes that it was not always easy gaining recognition.
He won a national title with the Waikato eight in 1988.
Bird later moved to Wellington and became the principal of a primary school.