Appo Hocton’s great grandson Alvin Schroder with daughter Carmen Dixon, wife Priscilla Schroder and granddaughter Jasmine Dixon (in front) at the newly-named Appo Hocton Way. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Family determined to have Appo recognised

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Descendants of New Zealand’s first Chinese immigrant, Appo Hocton, have spent almost two years trying to get a local pathway named after the early settler.

Alvin Schroder was bemused to find there was not a single street, pathway, park or reserve named after his great grandfather, who became a well-known businessman and personality around Nelson.

So, he and his family set about getting a previously unnamed pathway, which joins Pioneer Crescent with Valley Heights Rd, officially named after the first Chinese man in New Zealand to be naturalised.

Appo arrived in Nelson on board the Thomas Harrison, where he worked as a steward, on October 25, 1842.

When the ship left on November 10, Appo was not onboard, he had instead been hiding in the hills of Moana.

Once naturalised he bought land in the Washington Valley, and built several houses in Hastings St, owning one and leasing the others.

Living in Washington Valley, Alvin knew of a pathway that had remained unnamed for years, and the location happened to be right on Appo’s doorstep.

“My wife and I walk around there and saw the path with no name and thought ‘that’s a bit silly’, his property backed right on to it,” says Alvin.

In 2017, Alvin’s wife Priscilla lodged an application with Nelson City Council to get the ‘accessway’ named.

Nearly two years later on September 5, 2019 it finally came before council in a hearings panel meeting and, after a slow but successful process, it was approved.

Alvin and his family had agreed to front up with the costs of the two signs, about $500 each, to get it across the line.

The agenda from the September NCC meeting stated that Appo Hocton’s descendants had been in contact with Council for “more than a decade” with the aim of seeing him commemorated through an appropriate naming opportunity”.

Then, on October 11, the day before Alvin’s 78th birthday, his determination finally paid off with the erection of two brand-new street signs officially naming Appo Hocton Way.

The Schroder family say they feel immensely proud that there is now a landmark which recognises their ancestor, who is thought to have 1500 descendants.