Story: Gulls, terns and skuas

‘Black-backed gulls’

‘Black-backed gulls’

Percy Bagnall made this colour lithograph of two black-backed gulls in 1919. The plaintive call of these birds, the largest of the three New Zealand gulls, resonates around the coastline. The wailing cry inspired poetry of lamentation:

Tangi amio ana te karoro it te awa.
Ngā tohu o te ipo unuhia noatia.

The gulls circle the channel, crying.
They are signs my beloved is taken from me.

Quoted in Margaret Orbell, Birds of Aotearoa. Auckland: Reed, 2003, pp. 148–9

Using this item

Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki
Lithograph by Percy Bagnall, 1919

Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Gerard Hutching, 'Gulls, terns and skuas - Black-backed gulls', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 May 2022)

Story by Gerard Hutching, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015