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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 6, Issue 5, 2002

Mr and Mrs Dixon Become Teachers

Mr and Mrs Dixon Become Teachers

The Dixon family was under constant financial pressure. Laura Dixon's appointment as mistress of Long Plain School in 1874 must have brought some relief, even at the low salary of £60. She rode off daily across the river to teach, a baby and a three year old child with her on the horse, leaving the oldest child in charge at home. Her successor, Miss Jemima Burt, drowned making the same river crossing.

EB Dixon was appointed shortly after to the Lower Takaka (now Takaka) school, at that time one of the poorest of the Province's schools. There was an immediate improvement in attendance and results. In 1875 he moved on to the larger and better paid school at Collingwood. The School Inspector, WC Hodgson, found that under Dixon 'the children were being thoroughly well taught and a complete reformation had already been effected in the formerly very lax discipline of the school'. 17 Laura Dixon also taught at Collingwood for the second half of 1875.

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The promised house proved to be uninhabitable and the school little better, forcing him to live at the Commercial Hotel for some weeks. His wife and family remained for the time at Takaka. Dixon had found his vocation for teaching and, later that year, applied for the post of head teacher of the new Hokitika School with the recommendation of Inspector Hodgson who said "I do not think we have a better man in our service". 18

Ezra Brook Dixon became headmaster of the Hokitika State School in 1876 and gave it a sound reputation for academic standards and discipline. In 1890 he was appointed Inspector and Secretary to the Westland Board of Education, succeeding another former Nelson man, John Smith. Dixon died at Hokitika less then six months later, aged only 53.