They became the global "face" of the Kaikoura quake: footage of three cows stranded on a small grass island amidst the chaos after the massive magnitude-7.8 tremor were beamed on live news bulletins around the world.
Clarence Valley farmer Derrick Millton was busy trying to save the herefords when phonecalls from BBC, CNN, ABC and other major news networks came in wanting to know whether the two adult cattle and calf would survive.
Prince William, who stayed at the farm during the 2005 British and Irish Lions rugby tour, messaged the Milltons to say, "Your friends in England are thinking of you".
"The world just seemed to want to know and I realised just how important they were to the whole earthquake story," Millton recalls a year on from that fateful day.
The cows were part of a mob of 18 that were rescued on the third day of the quake.
Today, they were peacefully grazing on a lush top paddock on Millton's farm overlooking the Pacific Ocean where the seabed jumped 2m in the vicious shaking.
The cows have come to mean a lot for Millton.
They've even sparked a best-selling book, borne out of a poem penned by Millton's wife Jane at 4am the day after the quake, Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too.
"These are our friends - the guts of our farm really," he said.
"People always want to know about the cows and whether they were ever saved. It's always about the cows, not the people or the earthquake itself. But it's a positive story.
"And in a place where there is so much uncertainty, that's not a bad thing."