Famous Kaikoura quake cows get their very own kids storybook

NZ 31/03/2017

They became international symbols of the Kaikōura earthquake - a story of hope and a happy ending in a time of great destruction - and now the region's most famous cows have their own children's book.

Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too, follows the well-known story of the three quake cows who surfed to safety on an island of grass, only this time from the animals' perspective.

It was written by the cows' owner Jane Millton on a sleepless night after they'd been rescued.

"I always think when you can't sleep, you get up and do something practical - go and do the ironing or write a story or something. I always have a pen beside my bed, and on the back of an old calendar I jotted [it] down."

Writing the illustrated book was therapeutic, she says.

The basic story took about an hour to write, and Ms Millton - whose husband Derrick went to cut a path to safety for the cows with a group of others - says it was important the story was factual.

Ms Millton says she's read the book aloud to anyone who'd listen, including those working to fix their farm - whether they cared to or not.

"I've read it a lot of times, and I've absolutely hammered it down my grandchildren's throats and anyone who comes near," she said.

"There were a lot of children who were very frightened during the earthquake and I didn't want [the book] to be frightening, I wanted it to be a happy ending and I wanted to get the message through to anyone who reads it that we do care about our animals."

She says the early morning magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 4 will be one that will stay with her forever.

The family has been farming at Waipapa for 90 years and Ms Milton says it was a "privilege" to see the whole hillside of their farm come crumbling down. "My grandparents never saw it; my parents have never seen change like we've seen change.

The cows' story went worldwide after a Newshub camera operator filmed their plight from a helicopter.

As for the quake cows, they are back with the herd and thriving. Both of the cows are expecting new calves in August.

Ms Millton hasn't ruled out putting pen to paper again for a Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too sequel.

Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too is on sale now.