“The rab­bits see him com­ing with his pink plas­tic toy and snicker”

They’re sur­rounded by im­pec­ca­ble art, de­sign and views yet the home­own­ers in­sist their Jack Rus­sell is the best-look­ing thing in the place


The owner of this art-rich ru­ral home – also part of our Welling­ton

House Tour – on his rab­bit-mad Jack Rus­sell ter­rier, page 28

High on a ridge line above the Pau­ata­hanui Inlet is a house of tow­er­ing spa­ces and long, art-stud­ded walls that is home to one small Jack Rus­sell ter­rier. Locket is his name and he is the star of this NZ House & Gar­den fea­ture for rea­sons that will be ex­plained later. Locket’s el­e­gant gallery-like home is set on seven pri­vate hectares – a place of open lawn and trees and many rab­bits, none of whom are afraid of Locket.

“I think the rab­bits are laugh­ing down their bur­rows about him,” says Locket’s owner. “They see him with his pink plas­tic toy and snicker. On oc­ca­sions he comes back with a filthy head, but he’s not good at the kill.”

What Locket is good at is lolling in his bas­ket near the kitchen, ready to pounce on any ex­otic morsels that may drop to the f loor. >

Locket was born two and a half hu­man years ago: a fine young puppy, ex­cept for his crooked teeth. “We didn’t think braces were nec­es­sary,” say his own­ers, who bought him from a lo­cal breeder and so res­cued him from a life­time of dog shows.

His grand home on the hill was built, to a de­sign by Ger­ald Par­son­son, in 2000. As a new build it was a stark, ar­chi­tec­tural state­ment, sur­rounded by hectares of wav­ing grass. By the time six-month-old Locket ar­rived 10 years later though, his de­signer own­ers had added lay­ers of in­ter­est and cre­ative in­trigue. Art­works were stud­ded through­out the open white spa­ces – a Bert Stern pho­to­graph of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe on a tiled wall near the kitchen; a Michael Parekowhai light at the end of a hall­way lined with mas­sive full-face por­traits of chil­dren (the work of Locket’s mas­ter), a throng of in­dus­trial glove moulds on a kitchen shelf and much more. >

Spa­ces were opened up and a glass-clad ex­ten­sion de­signed by McKen­zie Higham Ar­chi­tec­ture was added. Out­side, hun­dreds of trees were planted – pines at first, to pro­tect against the fe­ro­cious northerly winds, and later na­tives.

The tree project is on­go­ing and pro­vides Locket and his mas­ter with reg­u­lar ex­er­cise – walk­ing to in­spect trees, to tie up those knocked over by the wind and to plant more trees. Along the way Locket does what his mas­ter de­scribes as “perime­ter checks”, let­ting the rab­bits know he is on their case, chas­ing birds that land on his turf. “It is 7ha and he likes to be thor­ough.”

When his own­ers are away, Locket goes to the lo­cal ken­nel, or back to his breed­ers, to spend time with other dogs who (ac­cord­ing to his own­ers) he adores. “They, on the other hand, find him te­diously en­thu­si­as­tic.”

Enthusiasm – dis­pensed with­out favour to all and sundry – is per­haps Locket’s sin­gle most defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic. When his mas­ter col­lects him af­ter a long ab­sence, Locket is en­thu­si­as­tic about see­ing him (“but no more so than he was to see the last hu­man”), en­thu­si­as­tic about the car trip and in­cred­i­bly en­thu­si­as­tic about get­ting back to the rab­bits.

And when NZ House & Gar­den Welling­ton tour­go­ers visit Locket’s re­mark­able, ar­chi­tec­tural, art-rich home on the hill on March 14, his owner pre­dicts that it is the dog who will steal the show. >

THIS PAGE (clock­wise from be­low) A pho­to­graph by the home­owner of Bubby’s Diner in NYC hangs in a cor­ner of the kitchen/liv­ing area above a stuffed Cana­dian goose. The out­door din­ing space opens from the new “pavil­ion” ex­ten­sion (at the far end) and kitchen/liv­ing area, mak­ing one big in­door/out­door space in sum­mer. Tipene Eyes Closed hangs next to rus­tic farm im­ple­ments.

OP­PO­SITE Look­ing through the court­yard to the pavil­ion with the home­owner’s black and white pho­tog­ra­phy on the wall, a tai­lor-made black pool ta­ble, Ba­li­nese fig­urines and an Eero Saari­nen Womb chair.

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