John Martin wanted to not just own a town, but to mark it with his personal history.
As a consequence the town is not just named for him - Martinborough - but is set out in the shape of the Union Jack.
And the streets off the central square are named for places he had been like Oxford, Texas, Kansas and Cambridge.
John Martin was born on November 11, 1822, in County Londonderry, Ireland to clergyman John Martin and his second wife Sarah.
They both died on typhus in 1838, so the 11 Martin children set out for New Zealand on the Lady Nugent landing in Port Nicholson - Wellington - in 1841.
As a young man John worked hard as a pick and shovel hand and carted ammunition to militia in the Hutt Valley.
On September 14, 1847, he married Marion Baird with whom he had 10 children.
He went into partnership with his brother-in-law on some land but the licence for the land was cancelled in 1861 when gold was found on the land.
John and his brother-in-law took advantage of it, selling their stock for meat and transporting the gold.
John returned to Wellington with a small fortune and bought land in Taranaki St, set up as a merchant and built a residence called Fountain Hall in Ghuznee St.
He tried politics but had too much of a temper and failed several times.
In 1864 he sold part of his Taranaki St land and bought the 12,698 acre Otaraia station in the Wairarapa.
In business he and a partner bought out the New Zealand Steam Navigation Company.
He added to his holdings in the Wairarapa by buying another 24,878 acres in the middle of an existing holding, meaning the owner of the surrounding land, Daniel Riddiford, was later forced to buy it - but became John’s enemy.
Whatever his business dealings, he was known as a generous host and in 1875 he was responsible for a drinking fountain being put up on Lambton Quay - where the water was mixed with whisky when it opened. It was six metres tall and offered drinking water to anyone. Considered a Wellington landmark for a time, later it was moved and then scrapped when it became too corroded.
Later that year, he left for a tour of Europe and America - on the steamer Taranaki, he owned.
On his return he was made a justice of the peace and then was called to the Legislative Council where he made no impression at all.
Then in 1879 John bought the 33,346 acre Huangarua Estate in the Wairarapa for £85,000 in gold.
The land was split into 334 small farms and the township of Waihenga was renamed Martinborough and divided up to be sold.
John had a grand vision - laying out the central square with roads radiating from it - but the land auctions were a failure.
Nevertheless - over time Martinborough gained a niche reputation and today is known for its vineyards.
John also left his mark on Wellington's urban landscape in the form of Martin Square; Marion, Jessie and Espie streets were named after his two youngest daughters and his mother.
His wife Marion died on February 11, 1892 and John on May 17 the same year. He is buried in Karori cemetery.
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