Cat Named Mittens Is In The Running To Become New Zealander Of The Year
The annual New Zealander of the Year Awards will be a hotly contested ballot this year.
Miriama Kamo, the patron of the awards, said: "In this extraordinary year, we know that everyone has a hero."
There are so many contenders that are deserving of the prize, with the likes of Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and the country's Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, some of the big names. But there is another contestant that could knock those two bigwigs off the top spot: a cat named Mittens.
The 10-year-old Turkish Angora has become a bit of a celebrity over the years after being spotted roaming the streets of Wellington.
People love snapping photos with the cat and uploading their encounters to his official Facebook page, where it has more than 53,000 followers.
A cat has never won the coveted New Zealander of the Year Award and this could be the first time it clinches the gong.
It managed to get a Key to the City in Wellington earlier this year because officials wanted to recognise its rambunctious, beautiful nature when out in public.
Mayor Andy Foster even dressed up in his full regalia in May to hand Mittens a little key to his collar.
"The past few months have been some of the most difficult we've encountered, so we're pleased to be able to provide some light relief during this challenging time," Mayor Foster said.
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"Mittens has featured in the Wellington Advent Calendar, made the news overseas, and is the focus of thousands of selfies on his own Facebook page.
"He's famous for roaming the CBD visiting businesses and homes, bringing his brand of coolness wherever he goes - the Key to the City pretty much acknowledges his daily routines."
Loads of people have tried to hand the cat into authorities thinking it was lost or needing rescue, prompting the SPCA to tell everyone that Mittens just enjoys the great outdoors and to leave him be.
He's been found in churches, office blocks and tattoo parlours, showing there is literally nowhere he isn't allowed.
Owner Silvio Bruinsma said it's great to see everyone rally around a cat: "It's a great community story at a time when Wellington needs it most, and reflects the positivity he has brought to the people he encounters on his adventures.
"Mittens has captured the heart of the city and kept smiles on the faces of many of his fans during lockdown - both here and abroad."
But Mittens will be up against some big contenders for the New Zealander of the Year Award. Semi-finalists will be announced in December, with the winner revealed in March 2021.
Organisers have said people who have been 'public-facing' on managing the Covid-19 pandemic had already received 'a significant number of nominations' because that reflects 'the mood of the nation this year'.
Never too late for a late surge for Mittens though.
Featured Image Credit: Diksha Gaur (Creative Commons)
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