Robert Ernest Wells

Date of birth / Date established
16 Oct 1905
Date of death / Date closed
25 Dec 2006
Place of birth / Place established
Place of death / Place closed
Person/Corporate type
Robert Ernest Wells was born in Patea in 1905. His father, Ernest Edward Wells had a photography business in Patea until 1917 when he sold the business and moved the family to Hawera where he ran a cycle shop. Ernest Wells introduced Robert to photography, buying him his first camera, a Kodak Box Brownie, at the age of 14. Robert continued photographing until 1996.
Robert Wells trained as a teacher and taught in primary schools from 1923 until his retirement in 1967. Among the schools he taught at were Tawhiti School, Mangatoi School (Mokau River), Kirihau Road School, Arawhata Road School, Aratapu School (Dargaville), Te Kiri School, Waitara Central and East Schools and finally at Fitzroy School from 1954-1967.
From 1927 Wells also worked as a freelance photographer selling his work to the "Auckland Weekly News", "New Zealand Freelance", "Dairy Exporter" and "Tui's Christmas Annual". Wells' photographic work increased during his retirement from teaching, taking on contracts to tour the country for "Auckland Weekly News" and Newmans Coachlines. Since 1982 Wells' transparencies have been held by Photobank, an Auckland-based photo agency, and his photographs have been reproduced on calendars, postage stamps, posters, phone cards and various forms of merchandise.
Wells' collection of negatives from the 1920s to 1950s are held by the Alexander Turnbull Library.
(Ref: Virginia Winder, "A Lifetime Legacy in Pictures",; Robert Wells, "Mokau River Memories: 1927-1932", Puke Ariki Archives, ARC2003-1264)


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