It was a bit of case of if the hat fits, wear it, for Hawke's Bay farming leader Robert Pattullo yesterday as he replaced a helmet which possibly helped save his life despite being damaged when he was attacked by a bull five weeks ago.

Mr Pattullo was working alone on his farm bike and shifting a mob of cattle on the morning of February 1 when he was hit by a 650kg bull.

On a remote part of Newstead Farm, a Rissington property which has been in the family about a century, and on which he plans to still be farming for a few years yet.

The farmer had to use the frame of his farm bike to protect himself from the enraged animal, and, having mislaid his phone in the attack used the beacon, the signal from which was picked up at the Rescue Co-ordination Centre of New Zealand in Lower Hutt.


The rescue was prompt and he was flown by rescue helicopter to Hawke's Bay Hospital and treated for head, arm and chest injuries, mainly bruising and cuts, and was discharged later that day.

Robert Pattullo with three of his dogs not long after he was discharged from hospital. Photo / File
Robert Pattullo with three of his dogs not long after he was discharged from hospital. Photo / File

The rogue bull was earmarked for termination as a result of the incident, but yesterday Mr Pattullo conceded identifying the culprit hadn't been as easy as he thought it would be.

"But most of the mob have gone now," he said.

"And the rest will be gone within a couple of weeks, so if he's not already a hamburger he soon will be."

The helmet, the same as that which was damaged, was replaced by manufacturers Pac Fire, with Mr Pattullo saying there was no need to change.

"They're a good helmet," he said. "But they're designed for when you get tipped over on your four-wheeler, not when you're being crushed by a bull. It's buggered, but it's done its job. I was pretty thankful to have it."

The delivery of the new helmet by Pac Fire NZ national sales manager Rick Hodge was part of possibly the last round in a series of messages driven home by the remote farm mishap and Mr Pattullo's survival, including the value of an emergency locator beacon and the rescue helicopter service it activated.

Any reasons for the out-of-the-blue attack will probably go with the animal, but Mr Pattullo said several farmers he had spoken with had related similar types of incidents happening with greater frequency over the summer months.


"It has been a bit of a common theme," he said.

While still receiving treatment for arm injuries, he was "back in action" quickly after the incident.

"Life has to go on, so I'd don't reflect on what might have happened," he said.