A new challenge on the horizon for Kiwi entrepreneur

He’s known as Billy Black to most, the character Barry Woods created as part of his Kiwi Culture Show at the world-famous Woodlyn Park in Waitomo.

Billy was born of necessity; In the beginning Barry had been doing the 20-year old show as Barry for three years solid, every day of the week. He was burning out, family life was taking a hit and the self-confessed workaholic needed a break.

“Over the years he (Billy Black) keeps getting compared to the likes of Barry Crump, Fred Dagg’s Trevs and Billy T James. Having a character meant I could train up other Billy Blacks.”

And so, a family of Blacks was born, as Barry likes to say, and there’s been a female Black in the family as well.

Barry’s show gave the audience a taste of authentic Kiwi country life but he’s most proud of the learning experiences he wove into the show for both young and old.

“It’s a bit of science, maths, the whole lot and the children love it cos they’re having fun.”

Barry sold the business he built from scratch over a year ago now. He’d transformed the award-winning property in Waitomo into a park renowned for its unique accommodation, with subterranean Hobbit holes, a World War II boat, a 1950s train and Bristol Freighter plane among the accommodation options.

He’s ready to move on to the next journey as a ‘just over 60-year-old, taking the Billy Black show on the road.

With his wife Judy, Barry’s selling off property in Raglan, including the couple’s home on Norrie Ave and a couple of rentals and heading off on tour in an American caravan.

The travelling show is nothing new, Barry developed a mobile show to take to the corporate sector several years ago and he’s always been welcomed with open arms at A&P shows around the country.

“My accountant said I was mad selling up, the business was doing so well but I’ve always thought it’s good to get out when the market is high.”

Reinventing himself is nothing new to Barry, starting life cutting a farm in Taharoa from scrub with his father, he left that as a young “fullah” to take up shearing with the end goal of owning a farm himself one day.

He travelled the world shearing and made enough money to buy his own farm in Otorohanga in the late 80s.

In the late 90s, he moved into tourism, like his father before him Barry says he’s always been a bit of a visionary and although people thought he was mad back then, he had a feeling tourism would be the next big market in New Zealand.

And the idea for Woodlyn Park and the Kiwi Culture show was born one night scribbling away on a piece of paper at the kitchen table. Much of his notions, imaginings and ‘business’ research is done this way, late into the night.

Now, it’s time to take it a little bit easy – as much as a man like Barry can – look at some different opportunities.

“I’m lucky I can pick and choose what I might do in the future.”

He’s been doing some research on a couple of ventures but high on his list is penning a novel based on his life.

“I’ve got so many stories to tell from my travels overseas. I want the stories told through a character like Billy Black,” he says.

In the meantime, there are houses to sell, downsizing to be done and he’s still making improvements to the property on Norrie Ave.

“Life goes on.”

For more information about Norrie Ave sale contact Julie Hanna at julie.hanna@raywhite.com

Janine Jackson