“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.