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Vet enters fourth decade

Stuart Bruere at the Vet Services Wairarapa formal ribbon cutting in August 2015. PHOTO/FILE

Wairarapa’s Stuart Bruere is entering his 40th year as a veterinary practitioner. And even after decades in the profession, he says he still enjoys turning up for work each day, and caring for animals, large and small. Emily Ireland reports.

Stuart, of Vet Services Wairarapa is best known in the region for his unmatched passion for animals and people alike.

In 1979, Stuart qualified at Massey University and went on to practise in Ruatoria for three years as an employee of the Gisborne Vet Club.

In the East Cape District he mainly dealt with sheep, cattle and working dogs.

He laughed as he recalled how a small audience of farmers watched from the fence as he calved his first cow, Daisy.

Thankfully for Stuart, it went well with the delivery of a live heifer calf.

He was ready to make his mark in the veterinarian profession.

In 1983 he shifted to Wairarapa where he practised in partnership for a small two-man practice for 14 years.

In 1997, he established Chapel St Veterinary Centre – now Vet Services Wairarapa – with the aim of running a modern veterinary service for both rural and urban customers.

It was around the time he set up this practice in the late 90s that he was diagnosed with clinical depression.

“It’s something I’ve never been secretive about,” he said.

In fact, his personal experience with mental illness has been a fundamental part of his contribution, particularly in the farming community.

“You have some situations when you go on to farms and you can see that the farmer is struggling.

“So, you deal with the clinical issue, but then you also say, hey, let’s have a cup of tea.”

Stuart Bruere.
PHOTO/Valais Blacknose New Zealand

Stuart fought back tears as he described “amazing changes” he had seen in clients he had supported just by sitting down and having a chat with them about his own experiences with depression in the late 1990s.

“Farmers operate under pretty substantial financial and drought pressure, but a lot of the time, the situation isn’t as bad as they think it is.”

It can be a lonely occupation.

He recalled the drought in 2016 when there were many situations locally where “stock were under enormous pressure with difficult feed availability and water supply”.

“Not only were the stock suffering, but the people were suffering as they watched the situation turn into carnage, day after day.

“I had to help farmers work out how they were going to feed their stock.

“It was quite humbling actually to be able to visit farms and write down basic feed budgets for them, so they had a plan.”

Stuart said he applied elements of “adult learning education” to his work as a vet to “positively influence” his clients and “improve their circumstances”.

After stepping down from his managerial role at Vet Services Wairarapa 18 months ago, Stuart’s main responsibility in the practice now is to service the farming community doing routine veterinary work such as pregnancy scanning cows, vasectomising rams, calving cows, and attending to sick animals.

But when asked what his most unusual case has been over his career, he said it would have to be an instance this month when someone brought in their pet mouse with a sore eye.

“The thing that it teaches you is that somebody really loves that little animal,” he said.

“You’ve got to respect that.

“Some people might say, oh it’s just a mouse, but no, that’s someone’s dear pet.

“If you don’t respect that, then it’s time to stop.”

His favourite cases are still those when he calves a cow and delivers a live calf.

Newborn calves are very cute animals, he said.

Another highlight over his long career has been the update in the Animal Welfare Act in New Zealand.

“That’s been a remarkably positive update as it’s now recognised that animals are sentient beings – they have feelings and emotions.

“The least we can do as humans is respect that and make sure that we provide and care for them.”

When asked what inspired Stuart to become a vet, he said it was a profession that “runs in the family” – his father was a vet and his youngest daughter is training to be a vet nurse in Darwin, Australia.

“It’s lovely to be able to share your passions like that.”

Stuart shows no interest in slowing down or retiring any time soon – which comes as a delight to his many loyal clients.

Pet owner Alix Cooper, of Masterton said Stuart is held in “huge mana” – “not just as a vet, but with his work in the field of helping traumatised farmers, many of which are contemplating suicide or dealing with severe depression”.

She said he was “revered for his compassion, results and work”.


  1. Well done to Stuart, but just to say his 40th year is the beginning of his 5th decade (0-9 1st, 10 – 19 2nd, 20-29 3rd, 30-39 4th, 40 onwards 5th)

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