By KEVIN TAYLOR

Taumarunui on the main trunk line wants to ditch its cup of tea and meat-pie image for the cappuccino and panini look.

The King Country town has brewed a plan to cash in on its production of frothy milk.

Its promotions committee wants to build a giant cappuccino cup to rebrand Taumarunui the cappuccino capital of the country or maybe the frothy milk miracle of the world.

Committee spokesman Geoffrey Darling said the icon might even spout a fountain of frothy milk.

Locals are grasping at the chance to be linked to something other than the old song Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line.

The song immortalised the railway tea and pie stops in the town, sung by a lovelorn train passenger.

You've got cinders in your whiskers and a cinder in your eye,
So you pop off to Refreshments for a cuppa tea and pie,
in Taumarunui, Taumarunui.
Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line!



- Peter Cape, 1957


The frothy milk comes from Friesian cows at Owhango and Manunui, south of Taumarunui.

They were catapulted to fame in the bovine world when it was discovered that their milk is consistently frothier than others - but nobody knows why.

One theory is that their milk is lower in fat than others and therefore froths better.

But tourists will be disappointed if they expect Taumarunui's main street to be bursting with cafes offering cappuccinos.

"We have one cafe with a cappuccino-making machine in it - and a lot of others that should get one," Mr Darling said. "The cafe society is not here yet."

Not one to put the plunger on the idea, King Country MP Shane Ardern rates the town's cafes first-rate and a great place to get a cappuccino - even if it's not the first place to spring to mind in the coffee stakes. But he applauds locals for trying to use the area's natural advantages.

Mr Darling wants community support for the idea, and hopes things will move quickly.

He pointed out that other small towns had similar icons - Te Kuiti has its shearer, Ohakune its carrot and Taihape its gumboots.

"We are not promoting cappuccinos. We are promoting the fact that we make the frothiest milk for the best cappuccinos."