Morrinsville, the cow capital of New Zealand?
In keeping with its Cream of the Country theme, Morrinsville could become the cow capital of New Zealand.
Matamata-Piako District Council member Nicki Robb has unveiled a proposal for Morrinsville to have a version of CowParade, claimed as the world's largest public art event.
With experience in event management in the United States, Robb told a recent council meeting that Morrinsville could have a herd of uniquely decorated life-size fibreglass cows on permanent display around the town.
"Morrinsville is famous for what?" she said. "It needs something to hang our hat on."
Robb pointed to Paeroa with its famous L&P bottle, Matamata (Hobbiton and associated i-Site building), Katikati (murals) and Te Aroha (spas and rail trail).
"Morrinsville needs to have something which is unique and relevant," she said. "We can build on what we already have."
Robb said an obvious link is the Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville, which could act as the contact point for artists.
The Morrinsville "parade" would involve a herd of anywhere from six to 24 cows - standing, lying or grazing - sponsored by businesses.
Robb said the overall concept in Morrinsville could include a website, art trail and children's competition to name the cows.
"It is limitless what we can do," she said.
In recent weeks she has presented the concept to Morrinsville Promotion Association (MPA) and Morrinsville Art Gallery Charitable Trust which oversees the Wallace Gallery.
Speaking to Fairfax Media last week, she was sourcing moulds for the cow sculptures, which would help establish costs.
Expressions of interest are being sought from Morrinsville businesses.
"I hope to have it up and under way in the next couple of months."
MPA chair Nigel McWilliam said his organisation is "100 per cent" behind the cow concept.
"We are very, very excited about it," he said. "It will give an opportunity to build on the Cream of the Country promotion."
McWilliam said the cow sculptures could be the flagship for Morrinsville.
"It would put us out there. The idea is just awesome."
Mayor Jan Barnes said the cows would give Morrinsville a point of difference.
CowParade Auckland was staged in 2003, which saw 14 life-sized fibreglass cows unveiled to the public during the hosting of the America's Cup.
More than a dozen artists collaborated to help design and paint the cows, sold at auction at the end of the promotion with proceeds going to Youthtown.
The concept of "cow parade" has its origins in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1998 and was taken to the United States, to an event organised in Chicago in 1999.
A bronze casting of one of the cows is on permanent display in Chicago in commemoration of the city's initial exhibition.
Marking the 15th anniversary of the milestone Chicago event, Hartford, Connecticut, is hosting a CowParade in August.
The success of the venture inspired many other cities around the world to host similar fundraising projects, while others have chosen animals for public art projects.
These include Copenhagen (baby elephants), Istanbul (shoes), Munich (lions) and Liverpool (penguins).