No one could accuse Stephen Yuretich of over-promising and under-delivering, after he assured a youngster who was a little nervous about meeting Big Goat outside Kaitaia's library on Thursday that "It's okay. He's pretty safe."

What he meant was that in the unlikely event of any harm being done it would be accidental. As it happened everyone who took the chance to pat, and in many cases feed the friendly beast, survived unscathed.

For some reason Stephen's librarian wife Helen wouldn't let Big Goat inside the library, but he enjoyed the sunshine, and encountering a small mob of admirers — and scoffing a month's worth of pellets that are usually an occasional treat.

He was called Big Goat to differentiate him from his companion, presumably called Little Goat, Stephen saying the lack of a more imaginative name hadn't been a problem before he became a public figure. The oversight might have been resolved though, someone suggesting be known as River Phoenix, which seemed apt.

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When he was a kid, about eight years ago, he had been found floating down the river that flows through Kaitaia. A family plucked him from the water, and when he had eaten all their grass he moved on. He wound up at Stephen and Helen's place at Pukepoto, where he will spend the rest of his days.