Muller Road may be named after Dr Stephen Lunn Muller, Blenheim’s postmaster and magistrate, but his wife was perhaps a more influential pioneer character.
Mary Ann Muller had an interest in women’s right to vote and in the loss of women’s property rights. This was not a popular view among pioneer men, including her husband, so she hid behind a pen name Femina and under this name published articles that were distributed throughout New Zealand and the country’s first women’s right pamphlet. Although she would one day be able to register herself as an elector, Mrs Muller only revealed her true identity as Femina in 1989, after her husband’s death.
Kate Shepherd referred to her as New Zealand’s first pioneer suffragist.
Dr Muller came to Blenheim as its magistrate and postmaster in 1857. He never practised medicine in New Zealand, but was the ship’s surgeon during his migration to New Zealand on board the Pekin in 1849. He was Nelson’s provincial secretary from 1850 before moving to Blenheim, where he reportedly found “a pandemonium filled with all sorts of bad characters” (The Marlborough Express, 31 December, 1878). Still, he promoted education in the Wairau and the establishment of a library.