Bernard and Dorothea Moller
Nelsonians over the decades have enjoyed the water jets and nocturnal coloured lights of Moller Fountain in Haven Road, but few would know of the donors, or that it was planned for Church Hill/ Pikimai.
The illuminated Moller Fountain began in concept as a gift to Nelson from an anonymous donor. Originally it was to be erected in Anzac Park but this was deemed unsuitable – drifting water spray was seen as a problem for local business premises. But when Church Hill was named as the location, there was a public outcry via letters to the editor of the Nelson Evening Mail. Seventeen letters were published and six articles written about the siting. The outcry paid off.
Miller’s Acre and the Queen’s Gardens had been under consideration, but eventually Haven Road was chosen. When the fountain was finally completed and the lights turned on by Dorothea Moller, the identity of the donor was revealed. In her speech to a large crowd, Dorothea explained that her husband Bernard, who had died in 1933 aged 821, had always said that Nelson was one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. It had been his wish that she should leave something as a memorial by way of a gift to the city. This was to have been done after her death but, at the suggestion of the Mayor, Mr. Page, she had decided to make the gift during her lifetime, so that she could enjoy it too. The newspaper reveals that when the amount of money donated fell short of the final cost, Mrs. Moller very generously donated the sum required from her own funds.
Bernard Moller was a seed, fruit and potato merchant with a premises in Bridge Street. He imported seeds, bulbs, plants and trees from all over the world and had seed testing paddocks in Milton Street, and potato grounds at Riuwaka/Riwaka. Every spring, thousands of vegetable and flower plants were sent all over the province. Bernard was also involved in sports clubs, lodges, horticultural clubs and was a city councillor and Justice of the Peace. The Moller Memorial Cup was given to the Nelson Rugby Union in 1934 to commemorate Bernard's work for the City and, in particular, to support Rugby.2
Dorothea Louisa Sigglekow married Bernard Henry Moller in 18773, on Dorothea’s 22nd birthday. The couple had no children. Like her husband, Dorothea took an active interest in civic affairs and politics. She had the distinction of having been appointed the first Chief Ranger of Female Foresters in the world. The Foresters is a friendly society. Dorothea enjoyed her fountain for a time and died in 1944 aged 89 years.
The Mollers were very generous benefactors. In addition to the money left for the Moller Fountain, they left significant sums to a number of other Nelson organisations.4
Margaret Farrelly and Dianne Scott (written for the Wakapuaka Headstone Stories interpretation panel, 2022)
Sources used in this story
- Death (1933, June 17) Nelson Mail, p.6
- B.H. Moller Memorial (1934, August 7) Nelson Mail, p.4
- Married (1877, October 1) Nelson Mail, p.2
- Generous Bequests (1944, June 30) Nelson Mail, p.4
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Further sources - Bernard and Dorothea Moller
- Beautiful sight. Coloured fountain turned on in Haven Road (1940, August 8). Nelson Evening Mail, p.6
- Fountain site (1940, May 8) Nelson Evening Mail, p.2:
- Mason, P (2011) The Moller Fountain And Its’ Donors. In Nelson Historical Society Journal, 7(3), p.16
- Happy Birthday Moller Fountain. Nelson Provincial Museum (Collections Highlight) 7 August 2020: