Born in Ōpunake in 1927, of Taranaki and Te Whakatōhea descent, J.C. Sturm (also known as Te Kare Papuni and Jacquie Baxter) was one of the first Māori women to obtain a university degree and one of New Zealand’s first published Māori women writers. Her short stories were published throughout the 1950s and 60s. She went on to produce collections of poetry, and her writing was widely anthologised. For many years overshadowed by her first husband, the poet James K. Baxter, Jacquie emerged in later life as an important voice in New Zealand literature.
J.C. Sturm was born as Te Kare Papuni to Mary and Jack Papuni. Shortly after her birth her mother died, and her grief-stricken father took her older sister and returned to his whānau on the East Coast. Te Kare’s maternal grandmother took her into her care. When Te Kare’s grandmother fell ill, a local Pākehā nurse named Ethel Sturm and her husband Bert Sturm (Ngāti Porou), fostered and eventually adopted Te Kare, renaming her Jacqueline Cecilia Sturm.