Post by TheLedge on Mar 27, 2015 4:22:48 GMT
Cats have left their mark on Taranaki history.
There have been a number of celebrity felines that have caught the imagination of the public and media, inspiring their own headlines, making television appearances, starring on posters, reaching great heights and earning themselves emotional sendoffs.
Possibly the most famous cat of all was biker Rastus, who used to go everywhere with motorcycling partner Max Corkill.
The thrill-seeking moggy always wore a red-spotted bandana, cat-sized helmet and racing goggles. He either perched his agile paws on Max's motorbike handlebars or snuggled into his travel bag as the pair purred along the road.
While Max was from Taranaki, Rastus was born in Canada. "He was dumped at a swap meet when he was hand-sized. I took him in and threw him on the back of the bike at that early stage and he's never been afraid," Max told The Daily News in 1994.
That was the year the black Bombay-cross was brought to New Plymouth as a seven-year-old. From then on, Rastus became a prominent Taranaki animal, helping to raise funds for the SPCA.
The biker buddies also starred on a television ad for Bell Tea, visited schools, attended functions and got kitted up in festive outfits at Christmas time. Max dressed as Santa, disguised his bike as a sleigh and fixed antlers on Rastus' head.
The canny cat acted much like a dog, obeying Max's commands and growling answers back. Rastus was fed a strict vegetarian diet and even conformed when Max told him to stop stalking birds. Man and cat were inseparable.
Sadly, the pair died in a head-on smash with a car on 20 January 1998. Max's partner and pillion passenger, Gaynor Martin, was also killed. The crash happened on State Highway 3, about 6km north of Urenui.
The funeral was a huge affair, with more than 1000 bikers following the two hearses. Newspaper reports say the cavalcade stretched from Inglewood to the New Plymouth Crematorium.
Max Corkhill and Rastus the Cat.kmz (1.87 KB)