The great albatrosses belong to the genus Diomedea, a reference to the Greek legend in which the companions of the warrior Diomedes are transformed into birds. Diomedea are the largest seabirds in the world, and the largest of these is the southern royal albatross, which can have a wing span of up to 3.45 metres. Nearly half of all albatross species are endangered, some critically.
To Māori in pre-colonised Aotearoa New Zealand, albatrosses represented beauty and strength, and people of high rank wore cloaks woven with albatross feathers and bone pendants from the birds. Garlands of feathers sometimes adorned the prow of waka taua (war canoes).