Book; [Poems]; Wells, William (Kangaroo Bill); 2014.42


Book; [Poems]

About this object

Book; [Poems] .This book contains New & Popular Poems written by W. Wells, New Zealand & Australian Poemster.

A long time resident of The Catlins, Mr Wells came out to New Zealand from Scotland as a young man from Geraldine. he and two of his brothers decided to visit Australia and the tales of his adventures gave him the name of 'Kangaroo Bill'. he spent time as a boundary rider in the Murrimidgee Region.

He returned to New Zealand to become an early settler, breaking in bush in The Catlins. he was a bushman, farmer, drover, wagon driver and contractor and settled with his wife on land at Kahuika. He had five daughters and one son. He also had land and bush at Papatowai. He contracted his bullock wagon to haul freight from Owaka to the Tahakopa River and beyond and this is told in lively fashion in his Ballad, "The Old Bullock Dray". He not only wrote verse - he recited it on any occasion to family and friends or up in the local hall at a dance or other gathering. He also played the fiddle, the accordian and the bones at these functions.

In the 1920s he became convinced that man would one day go to the moon - a remark that set the locals shaking their heads.

When the family grew up, his wife Nellie ran a boarding house at Papatowai. One of the buildings is still thee today and Bill would stop working the cattle long enough to take some visitors on a nature walk through the bush(no tourist tracks then not as they are today) and give them a history lesson at the same time.

In later year, Nellie and Bill retired to their farm cottage "over the river" and Bill spent alot of time growing dahlias. He would reign up the draught horse to go and get masses of kelp and seaweed to lay between the rows, and despite his neighbours' negative attitude, grew dahlias like dinner plates. He was very proficient at draughts, and in his eighties would travel up to Dunedin (after walking one and a half miles to the railway station) to play against the young city fellers (only sixty years) at the Athenaeum Draught Club.

He died in the Owaka Hospital aged 91. He spent alot of time with and was greatly admired by his seventeen grandchildren. [From notes by Granddaughter Shirley Bulger]


Wells, William (Kangaroo Bill)

Maker Role


Place Made

Oceania, New Zealand, South Island, The Catlins, Maclennan

Place Notes

Printed in Balclutha

Medium and Materials

processed material, paper


h 03mm x l 188mm x w 124mm

Subject and Association Keywords

literature, poetry

Credit Line

From the collection of Owaka Museum Wahi Kahuika, The Meeting Place "a rest on your journey".

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved