New park signposts remember ancestor
Lyn Sturm has been on a mission, and after recently completing the last challenge on her list, she can now say it’s mission accomplished.
Two new signs were installed by the Napier City Council at the top and bottom entrances to Bluff Hill’s Sturm’s Gully recently, rounding off six years of investigating, compiling and celebrating for Lyn.
Lyn has written a book about the life of her great-great-grandfather Frederick Sturm, who the gully is named after. Having new signs erected means F W C Sturm receives the recognition “that he so deserved but had not received”.
“The two signs had incorrect historical information. The new ones include the geographical name first, Karetoki Whare – the place where Pania is said to have stayed with her human husband. Dorothy Pilkington has had some input in the wording of the signs,” Lyn says.
Her project began in 2015 when she started researching the family tree. Six months down the track she started writing Frederick’s story.
Frederick was the earliest European settler in Hawke’s Bay, arriving in 1839. He walked to Wellington and Mahia several times. Frederick endured many tragedies, including the death of his first and second wives and two of his children. In 1865, with the Hauhau heading towards his home in Nuhaka, Frederick packed up his family and moved to Napier, where he established a nursery in the area now known as Sturm’s Gully.
“It was the first nursery in Hawke’s Bay. He also had a seed warehouse in Shakespeare Rd. He was importing and exporting seeds, plants, rootstock and native ferns around the world.”
From 1870 Frederick owned 20 acres at Mangateretere, which Lyn says she has visited.
“He advertised 200,000 tulip bulbs and 270,000 hedging plants for sale in the local paper. Most Sturm relatives I have come across have green fingers,” she said.
Lyn describes her great-great-grandfather as a fair man – a man of principle.
“He would go to court, he would stand up for others or himself. He saw the bigger picture – he was so forward thinking.”
Lyn has found “some wonderful cousins” during her research and even produced an 8m-long family tree for the family reunion she organised in 2018. The get-together had been preceded by the book launch of Forgotten Footprints: F. W. C. Sturm and followed by a tree planting and morning tea at Tomoana Showgrounds. A year later Lyn arranged and led the unveiling of Frederick’s new headstone in the Havelock North cemetery. He died in Clive 1896 aged 85.
“We had a piper and two speakers who spoke in German and Maori, plus a cloak and his pistol. We pitched in for the new headstone which we thought was befitting.”
Lyn gifted 26 copies of the book to high schools from Gisborne to Dannevirke, including Hereworth.
Photo caption – Lyn Sturm with the new signposts she’s finally had made to honour her great-great-grandfather who the reserve Sturm’s Gully is named after.