Meet Dione’s pet projects

To the rescue: Dione Bax with Panda, Meringue and Doris on her shoulder and in her hands Nelson, another needy pukeko, Peter Rabbit on the ground and Nigel the rescue calf.

Dione Bax with Spencer the pukeko

If there is a female version of Doctor Dolittle, then Cambridge 14-year-old Dione Bax would easily fit the bill.

Stray animals and birds make a bee-line for her mother Kylie’s boutique stud farm in Hautapu knowing Dione will be there to care for them.

Pukeko, sparrows, hedgehogs, wild rabbits and even pied stilts, which do not usually venture so far inland, all beat a path to Dione’s door.

She even convinced her mother to buy the bobby calves from her St Peter’s School dairy farm.

“I wanted to save them from going to the meatworks,” she said.

But the adopted pet she is currently pining for is Spencer, one of many damaged pukeko she has nursed back to health.

Spencer is a bit of a wanderer, loves human company rather than other pukeko and has taken solo trips around the community prompting Kylie to go on to social media to appeal for his return.

The family recently found him in Matangi, some 10 kilometres away, but this time he seems to have gone further afield despite getting spoilt rotten at the Bax farm.

Offers of poultry leg bands have poured in for Spencer when he returns.

Spencer was a very new hatchling when he followed Dione across the paddock. She kept putting him back with the other pukeko, but he knew a good thing when he saw it and re-joined the other animals and birds.

“I’ve raised nine ducks this year and they don’t seem to want to go anywhere,” she said.

Orphaned foals, calves and lambs all thrive under Dione’s care which begs the question, does some form of career in veterinarian care loom on the horizon?

Always a possibility, she said, but in the meanwhile in the words of the song ‘If I could talk to the animals’ – what a neat achievement it would be.

Pied stilts, like this one Dione Bax calls ‘Mike’ come to the Hautapu district in winter and spring. They are quite common in wetlands – like the newly established St Kilda area – and on the coast.
Dione Bax with her chicken Meringue.
Nelson, her new pukeko, rugged up in an old sock coat to keep safe.






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