Michael Dixon was born in Coventry, England, and spent his youth working in the ribbon-making trade. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1841, with his wife Sarah and their daughter Emma. He worked for a time as warder in the Wellington Gaol before starting as a dairy farmer in Karori. Sarah died in 1843, and Michael lost all his possessions in a bush fire in 1851, so he decided to try his luck further up country. He settled in Masterton with Emma, building a whare at Kuripuni and trading with the local Maori, as well as working his small farm. He remarried in 1855 but his new wife Christina deserted Michael after a short time, fleeing to Wellington with the couple’s only horse. Michael was deeply upset, and chased her on foot all the way to Wellington to find and return with – the horse.
His farm – bounded by the Kuripuni Stream and Chapel Street – was very swampy in parts, and the road eventually constructed through his land and named Michael Dixon Street in his honour, was better known to locals as “Swamp Alley”. To avoid confusion with the other Dixon Street, commemorating another unrelated Dixon family, the name was changed to Michael Street in 1905. It was retained despite an attempt to rename it Nelson Street in 1906.
Pic: Michael Dixon farmed near Kuripuni