Kaipara Stars for Hobbit

by Paul Campbell

Bullocks from Kaipara’s Battensby
bullock team will feature in ‘The Hobbit’

The mega million dollar Lord Of The Rings movie prequel from Sir Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, has imported some stars from the Kaipara to its Wellington production headquarters.

Two of the eight-strong Battensby Bullock Team are now in rehearsals for a scene in the movie.

“It took a couple of days in a neighbour’s truck to bring the bullocks, Spider and Rusty, down to Wellington,” said owner and team master, Ross Battensby. “That was two five-hour days on the road with an overnight farm stop with time out for the animals to rest up. There are four of us with them, my wife Kate and two helpers.

“We are now on an 1800-acre farm at Grey’s Road near Wellington that is leased by the production. I can’t say too much about what the bullocks will be doing, but we are spending two weeks in rehearsals for a scene which will be shot in the old General Motors building apparently. So the rehearsals are so the bullocks know what is required of them. It’s quite a lot of work for one scene.”

Asked if it was a taste of the ‘Hollywood’ lifestyle, Ross said he and the bullock handlers were staying in a motel, with the stars in a paddock.

“But I have negotiated a bit of a contract for them.”

However, Ross reckons the stars of the show will take it all in their stride.

“It’s the fourth lot of filming work we have done,” he added.

“They have appeared in a documentary, in a NZ Post advertisement and of course, on TV’s Country Calendar.”

The bullocks are no stranger either to crowds in the Kaipara, making appearances with their wagon, giving free rides at local shows, as well as the Northland Field Days.

The Hobbit tells of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, a diminutive creature who resides in Middle-Earth before he is compelled to go on a quest to find a treasure buried deep in the heart of Lonely Mountain and it’s due for release for Christmas in 2012, starring — apart from Kaipara bullocks — Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Aidan Turner and Rob Kazinsky.

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