Move over Mittens. You're not the only celebrity cat in the country.
Mittens has gained international attention for wandering the streets and workplaces of central Wellington, taking naps in odd places and posing graciously for selfies with his fans. In May he was presented with the Key to the City by Mayor Andy Foster, an honour the 10-year-old feline shares with film-maker Sir Peter Jackson and cricketer Brendon McCullum, he has 64,000 followers on his Facebook page, and has been nominated for New Zealander of the Year.
The South Hokianga, however, has Archie.
Every day he can be seen patrolling the town centre, particularly along Clendon Esplanade, between the jetty and the ferry landing, wandering into businesses, napping wherever he sees fit, provoking his canine enemies, demanding pats from passing humans and regularly getting locked inside shops by mistake. He has a favourite leather chair in Louis Toorenburg's Puzzle Museum, and likes to hang out outside the Boatshed Cafe.
Owner Leonie Robinson, of Haze Real Estate, said Archie's predecessor, Fluffybum, who had moved in when the family bought the local takeaways in 2006, was a ''real character,'' but with an unfortunate and ultimately fatal habit of sleeping on the road.
Archie came from a local litter four years ago, and quickly made the town his own.
He loved attention, and would lie on his back, inviting pats, whenever schoolchildren or tourists walked past, although he didn't like being picked up.
''He's very much his own cat,'' she said.
Like many humans, Archie struggled during the Covid-19 lockdown.
''He was very frustrated. He'd walk around looking for people but there weren't any around," Leonie added.
He had a habit of jumping into strangers' cars and getting locked into shops. Last Christmas Eve he was locked into the Simply Fun puzzle shop just as Robinson was about to drive to Auckland. When he didn't show up for dinner she searched the town, eventually finding him tapping on the shop window. He could have been there for days.
''Each time he comes home I'm surprised he's still around. He's very loved, but on his own terms," she said.