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A Wairarapa man whose special friendship with a wild pig made world headlines in the early 1980s has died.
Ivan Churcher and his pet pig Barry shared more than just friendship and fun times together -- they shared a fondness for cannabis that brought both of them to the attention of the law and international media.
Mr Churcher, who lived most of his life in rural South Wairarapa, was arrested for possession of cannabis, cultivating 380 cannabis plants and having a pipe for smoking the drug.
He pleaded guilty in Masterton District Court and his novel excuse -- that he was growing the plants not only for his own use but also for Barry was not only accepted by the court but has become part of Wairarapa folklore.
The prosecuting sergeant at the time John Johnston, who is now Masterton police area controller, conceded that "one smokes it and the other eats it" and that it was likely the pig was addicted to cannabis.
Instead of feeling the full weight of the law for his transgressions Mr Church was given a minimum punishment, 75 hours community service.
The resulting news story of the court appearance was published through New Zealand, Australia and Britain and even made it to the prestigious New York Times.
Mr Churcher first met Barry in 1976 when he was on a hunting trip in the Haurangi Ranges.
He caught the little piglet then about two days old and decided to take him home.
Barry proved to be a super intelligent pet who would sit on command and come when called.
He also learned to share a smoke and a bottle of beer which he would pick up in his mouth and drain before placing the bottle back down on the floor.
The pig also did his bit for charity often appearing at shows for people to try to guess his weight, or how many biscuits he could eat in 24 hours.
He enjoyed nothing better than to be given a soapy bath and a wash down with the garden hose afterwards.
Ivan Churcher was involved in several environmental campaigns being passionately anti 1080 poison that he claimed was killing wildlife, other than the possums it was intended for, and also many birds.
He also spoke out against those who abused fishing laws by taking undersized crayfish, saying that if sheep farmers went about killing their capital stocks in the same way they would go bust.
Ivan Churcher moved north but returned to Wairarapa in his last years and died on Sunday. His funeral service was to be held at Masterton today.