In our survey of clan-related place names in New Zealand, we’ve so far found four streets or roads with the name Mathieson.  Do you know of more?

From north to south, with links to Google maps:

Mathieson Road, Karapiro

Mathieson Road, Karapiro

Mathieson Road, Karapiro, Waipa, is named after pioneer farmers in the area.  According to Eris Parker in an article published by the Cambridge Museum “Mr and Mrs Horace Mathieson arrived in 1907 and in 32 years had transformed their 600 acres of bush and scrub into a highly productive farm. In those days the only form of transport was a pack horse led over a bridle track and the only way to get anything done was with the aid of a sharp axe, strong arms and a stout heart.”

This road is only a few hundred metres long and has three or four farms on it.  The road sign has been damaged and not replaced, so here is a photo of Mathieson Road.

Mathieson Street in Wanganui recalls Captain Kenneth Mathieson who arrived in Wanganui from Wellington on his own ship the Clydesdale in November 1841.  He established a boat building yard where the Aramoho School stands today, where in 1846 he built the schooner Gypsy.

Mathieson is better known for his time in Wellington, though he retained land and business interests in Wanganui.  He moved back to Wellington and by 1842 had established a shipyard at Kaiwharawhara (then known as Kaiwarra).  As well as building and repairing ships, he was later involved in the flax trade and built a large flourmill in partnership with a Mr Shultze.  Like many pioneering businessmen, Kenneth Mathieson foundered under a burden of debt before his enterprises became sufficiently profitable.  Serious damage to his ship the Clydeside may have been the final straw.  He appointed trustees to sell land and other assets in Wellington and Wanganui to repay his creditors.

Kenneth married Margaret Byron and they had two children: Kenneth Alexander (1849) who married and had five children, and Isabella (1851) who married but had no children.  Descendants believe that Kenneth Snr was lost at sea.  His widow left for Australia in about 1852, penniless, and settled in Newcastle, New South Wales.  She later remarried a Captain Green and died, again a widow, in 1919.

Sources: Street names of Wanganui, by Athol Kirk.  Onslow settlers of the 1840s: Kenneth Mathieson, by Julie Bremner, in the Journal of the Onslow Historical Society 18(4) 12-14 (1988).

Mathieson Avenue, Khandallah, Wellington

Mathieson Avenue, Khandallah, Wellington

Mathieson Avenue, Khandallah, Wellington.  This short street off Ranui Crescent was originally a private road servicing a subdivision, but was later taken over as a public road.  The landowner, George James Macdonald, subdivided the land in 1957–1958 and the road took the maiden name of his wife.  It seems most of the sections in the subdivision were built on in the early 1970s.

There’s quite a story attached to this landowner.  Jim Macdonald, known to his navy colleagues as ‘Mac’, was the most decorated New Zealand naval officer in WW2, and was one of the great motor torpedo boat commanders of that war.  Wellington-born Macdonald married Evelyn Margaret Helen Mathieson (who was in the Women’s Royal Naval Service) in Aberdeen in 1945, and the couple settled in New Zealand the following year.  He trained as an engineer and had a successful career with the Wellington City Council, becoming City Engineer in the 1970s.  He was very inventive; the vehicle turntable in Woodward Street (which many Wellingtonians will remember) being one of his innovations.  Jim Macdonald died in 1982 but Evelyn continued living in the street named after her, subdividing her large section in 1989.  She died in 2003, aged 84.

Mathieson Street, Waverley, Dunedin is probably named after John Mathieson and Catherine Mathieson, who farmed Grants Brae farm here in the 1850s and 1860s soon after arriving from Scotland, before moving a little further along Otago Peninsula to establish Springfield farm.  They were pioneers of New Zealand’s dairy industry, establishing the country’s first cooperative cheese-making business in 1871.


  1. Interesting page but it needs one correction – Kenneth’s ship was a barque called the Clydeside, not Clydesdale. You might be interested in this page of postal history which says he joined his brother, Robert, in Geelong in 1850 and continued ship building there.

  2. Hi Mike. Correction made; thanks for that, and thanks for the interesting link.

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