by Debbie Schipp
SWEARING profusely as an injured seagull he'd just saved pecks at his face, Robert Tahau has become an internet sensation.
It's a vicious thing, bro," he says, in one of the printable sections of the selfie video of the unlikely pair that has had more than a million views.
Tahau, who lives in Whakatane, rescued the bird from the side of the road last month in Te Puke, where he works in a quarry.
He told NZME he was driving his truck through the quarry when he noticed the bird sitting on the side of the road with a broken wing.
In the video, Tahau is sitting in his truck with the bird wrapped in a T-shirt, pecking his face as he attempts to let his Facebook followers know about his new friend.
The large seagull bites Tahau numerous times, as he battles with the now-flightless bird to keep composure - but his potty mouth gets the better of him.
As one viewer put is: "This cracks me up because you look mean and you are trying to save the bird even when it's attacking you, you still try to save it, that's very sweet of you."
Another says: "The guy's actually got a heart of gold."
Another person adds: "Haha all started so nicely lol then the C bomb got dropped towards the end."
Unfortunately, the bird met an untimely death.
Tahau explained to the NZ Herald: "My plan was to take it back to Whakatane where I live, but by the time I got home everything was closed down - the vet, and SPCA - so I thought I'd put him in a box with a blanket overnight.
"I gave him some wet bread because it looked like he was dry retching.
"When I came to check on him in the morning, he was as stiff as a rock, he had passed away."
Tahau said he then chucked the bird over the fence of his property.
However, after realising the bird had made lots of people laugh, and made Tahau himself "famous", he decided to retrieve the deceased bird and give it a proper burial.
"I dug a hole, wrapped him up, and just put him down."
Tahau said he didn't think the video would go viral.
"I thought I'd make a live video because I wanted everyone to see.
"I really thought it was just my friends on Facebook that will see all this, not knowing it would go viral."
This story appeared in the New Zealand Herald and is republished with permission