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Moonbird boy, 2009

by Matthew Newton

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2010 Finalist

Indigenous Tasmanian poet Errol West wrote the poem The Moon Birds of Big Dog Island in the 1970s:

Like dust blown across the plain are the people of the Moon Bird.
And yet there is no one to teach me the songs
That bring the Moon Bird, the fish
Or any other thing that makes me what I am.

Mutton birds, also known as moonbirds, have been harvested by the Tasmanian Aboriginal people for hundreds of years. It is a time for the Aboriginal community to come together and connect with country. This portrait shows Shay Maynard carrying birds toward the processing hut on Big Dig Island in the Furneaux Group, Bass Strait.

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2010

Other NPPP photos from Matthew Newton

On Albatross Island, 2015 by Matthew Newton
NPPP 2016 Art Handler's Award
Julia Gillard, 2013 by Matthew Newton
NPPP 2014 Finalist
© National Portrait Gallery 2019
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.