Appo Hocton Way sign recognises New Zealand’s first Chinese immigrant

11/11/2019 2:22am
Appo Hocton's family from left: Richard Barker, Priscilla and Alvin Schroder with the new Appo Hocton Way walkway sign.
Appo Hocton's family from left: Richard Barker, Priscilla and Alvin Schroder with the new Appo Hocton Way walkway sign.

Washington Valley resident Alvin Schroder is given a daily reminder of his great-grandfather, New Zealand’s first Chinese immigrant Appo Hocton, thanks to a newly erected walkway sign.

Alvin can peer across the Valley using Appo Hocton’s old golden telescope at the new Appo Hocton Way sign. 

“From my house I can look over here and see this sign and it has this glow around it because the sun reflects it,” Alvin says.

Because Alvin and his wife Priscilla live in the area, they knew of the unnamed walkway which joins Pioneer Crescent with Valley Heights Road, and worked with Council to get Appo Hocton Way officially named after the first Chinese man in New Zealand to be naturalised.

“We know that he lived here and he owned lots of property in this area, but there’s nothing else in Nelson with his name,” Priscilla says.

“We thought this was the appropriate area to have something named after him.”

It was an unconventional arrival for New Zealand's first Chinese immigrant in 1842. 

Wong Ah Poo Hoc Ting who became known as Appo Hocton, left China aged nine before gaining a steward job on the New Zealand-bound Thomas Harrison. The ship berthed in Nelson on 25 October 1842, where he joined other crew members and jumped ship.

Appo was hiding in the Port Hills when the ship left two weeks later.

Once he became naturalised, Hocton bought land in Washington Valley above the tideway, and built several houses, one which he owned, while he leased seven others, some of which are still in the Hastings Street/Washington Road area.

There is also a sign in Pioneer Park featuring the history of the area, including a photo of the well-known businessman and personality. 

The Schroder family is proud that there is now a landmark which recognises their ancestor.

Appo Hocton has approximately 1600 living descendents throughout the country.

Council is proud to support China Week which returns in 2019 and runs from 13-16 November. 

It is a celebration of Nelson’s historical and close links to China.

This event brings together an exciting array of activities, exhibitions, performances and business talks, to celebrate and promote cross-cultural relationships and connectivity.

China Week encourages stronger connections, enduring friendships and mutual benefits in the areas of education, business, and tourism.

For further details, go to the Nelson China Week website.