Maori called the white-fronted tern (NZ’s most common tern species) “tara” and “nui” means big; so “taranui” means big tern. This bird is found throughout the world and is monotypic. That means there are no subspecies. The birds in New Zealand are no different from those found in Europe or the Americas.
It is the largest of the tern family of birds and is thought to be a recent arrival here. Other tern species seen in NZ: the white-fronted tern (endemic), the fairy tern (native), little tern (migrant), white-winged black tern(visitor/migrant), black-fronted tern (native) and the grey ternlet (native).