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Motueka's very own ginormous cat

August 30th, 2017
[by David Armstrong]

Did you know that an absolutely huge cat is resident in the open spaces behind the Motueka skate park?

No-one seems to know how long it's been there or who put it there, but it can be seen easily from the air and even by satellites.

Its presence has reached broader public awareness in recent months as Keep Motueka Beautiful and TDC begin project planning for the unkempt land between the Inlet margin and the skate park facilities.

In trying to describe the area, which includes a popular gravelled walking track, the KMB committee have resorted to calling it the "cat area", based on Google Earth images provided by satellites.

Below is what is shown on satellite images, and you can easily see the cat with its distinctive ears and long curly tail just south of the white concrete skatepark pad.

Next time you're down that way, have a walk in from Old Wharf Road on the seaward side of the skate park and look for the creature. Careful where you walk.

And if anyone knows anything about who installed the cat and when, please write us a comment.

Spot the cat? It's in the centre of this satellite image. The Adopt-a-Plot and Community Garden areas are
to the left, the cemetery off screen to the right and the skate park centre top.

Comment by Shelley Diamond (via Facebook):
[Posted 30 August 2017]

This was done around 2000, 2001 ish. Neil Jackson Contracting was hired to gravel a walkway the shape of a cat and if I remember right it was going to be an area where people could plant trees in memory of their beloved pets. I remember doing the work spreading the crusher dust on the walk way.

Comment by Jim Butler:
[Posted 4 September 2017]

Can I add my pennies worth to Shelley Diamond comment on the gi-normous cat. As Shelley says, it all happened a long time ago. I am no good at remembering names, but a lady left a bequest to Motueka's SPCA for this organisation to acquire an area of land for SPCA members to plant trees and shrubs in memory of their departed pets. Apparently, the SPCA committee at that time considered this proposal to be out of their league and handed the bequest including the money over to TDC's Parks and Reserves.

This department decided that a better use of this money was to form a garden within the shape of a cat, which they did, all planted out with native grasses. But a weed barrier was omitted and couch grass got into the native grass clumps.

Then the argy-bargy began. The SPCA committee said, 'Not our problem, we never asked for a garden.' Keep Motueka Beautiful was invited to sort this garden out. If I remember correctly, our response was 'Spray the lot and begin again, this time with a weed barrier.' No doubt a sanitised version is available in TDC records. Eventually wiser heads prevailed and the garden became a lawn leaving only the pathway in the shape of a cat in memory of the bequest. I think this pathway must be made of concrete otherwise it would have disappeared long ago.

Further comment by Jim Butler:
[Posted 5 September 2017]

I was only involved when the argy-bargy was occurring, as at that time I was both on the Keep Motueka Beautiful and SPCA's committees. I can recall at a SPCA committee meeting discussing a letter presumably from Parks and Reserves staff complaining that we were not maintaining the garden and we replied that we were not in that business, or words to that effect.

Sometime later the KMB committee received a request from Kathy Curnow's predecessor for a working bee to weed the garden. This would be about 2005 I think. Bob Cooke tried to use a weed-eater and I dug up a clump of native grass and tried to pull all the couch grass out of it. We decided it was a hopeless job and packed it in. This did not please Kathy's predecessor.

But prior to the above, while it has some backing from Shelley Diamond's comments, I am relying on heresay. That is about the bequest to the SPCA and the Parks and Reserves involvement in the spending of it. It would be a good little exercise for me to try and find out more with the aim of giving the gi-normous cat the name of the lady who made the bequest. If I am successful, I will fund KMB to erect a suitable notice on site.

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