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August 7, 2017 August 2017, Regular Features No Comments

The John Martin Family

John Martin arrived at Wellington along with nineteen family members on the ship ‘Lady Nugent’ on seventeenth of July 1841. Six years later he married Marian Baird who came from the Fountain Hall area in Scotland. They had ten children: Elizabeth, Arthur , Sarah, Robert, John Jnr, William, Edward, Albert, Marian and Jessie.

John Martin initially worked carting goods around Wellington but in 1860 went south where he had relatives. He made considerable money selling livestock at the goldfields, coming back to Wellington he used the money to speculate in land and property.

He purchased Otaraia run from the A Giles estate in 1869 putting his wife’s nephew, J D Baird in charge, Baird established the Waihinga township in 1870. John’s son Edward took charge of Otaraia then later Arthur.

Early in January 1879 John purchased the Huangarua run from George Waterhouse for eighty five thousand pounds (current equivalent = $13,666,885) . He planned a township with a Square in the shape of a Union Jack with 595 house and business sections plus 334 farms and farmlets on the perimeter. His plan was officially filed on twenty second of June 1882. Meanwhile an initial auction of sites had been advertised to be held in Wellington for the 25 – 26th October 1879. However sales were poor and the auction was discontinued.

The first building in the town was TF Evan’s saddlery built in 1882 on the edge of the square (now the Batch).Next to start was R Buckeridge’s Martinborough hotel, however this took a long time to complete and then get a licence finally opening at New Year 1883. Around the same time George Pain was building his store also off the square.

A 1885 newspaper clipping quoted John Martin as declaring “Martinborough is the place to live” however while he and Marion sometimes entertained at Otaraia Homestead they never did live there. Sad to say he never lived to see his dream take off, he died in May 1892 and is buried at Karori cemetery.

The estate was wound up with the Huangarua run being divided with the west William to be called Huangarua and the East to John Jnr to be called Puruatanga and Otaraia to Arthur.
With the second generation in charge things began to move, albeit slowly, from Waihinga to the new Martinborough village. The Anglican church was built under the guidance of John and Arthur. William , a manager of the Presbyterian Church at Waihinga, wanted he by now too small to be rebuilt on the section now occupied by Poletec.

The second generation Martins were active in helping the town grow being involved in the library, race course etc. John Martin’s grandchildren continued to support the town being involved in the fire brigade, ambulance, electric power house, plunket, parks etc. Miss cicely Martin donated the land for the town’s pensioner flats. Having one of these people on your committee and it couldn’t fail.

Martinborough and Waihinga officially became on with it’s own Town Board in 1905, curiously there was no Martin on the Board. However generations of Martins served on the County Board. In 1944 William’s son Jack became Mayor of Martinborough serving from 1944 to 1953.

Mate Higginson

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