Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 41, September 1997
By Gordon Mathieson
In my ongoing search for information on Paeroa's past, it was my very great privilege, in early June 1996, to meet one of the earliest surviving teachers of the Paeroa District High School Primary Department. While it is fairly certain that the Patron of the Paeroa Old Pupil's Association, Mr Will Malcolm, now aged 91 years is the earliest survivor, (his career as a teacher beginning in 1922), the second earliest (almost certainly), would have to be 94 year old Miss Lucy Real of Orewa Beach.
Miss Real was born on 16 January 1903 in Roxburgh (Central Otago), her family moving shortly afterwards to the King Country, settling in Owhango, south of Taumarunui. One of Miss Real's earliest memories is of seeing the completion of the Main Trunk Railway in 1908 and of travelling up the famous Raurimu Spiral. Her father was a farmer who later took up land at Paterangi, in the Te Awamutu district. Lucy attended Owhango School and won a scholarship to Auckland Girls' Grammar School. She served a pupil-teacher apprenticeship at Paterangi School and then was at Auckland Teachers' Training College. Kakepuku (between Te Awamutu and Te Kawa West) was her first teaching location, then followed a move to Taupiri before beginning 7½ years' service at Paeroa, from February 1929 until July 1936. Lucy and her mother, Mrs Mary Real leased a cottage from Mr Robert McKee, in Bush Street, Paeroa.
Their immediate neighbours were Mr and Mrs William Henry Taylor (son of Wm. Huia Taylor, and brother of Muriel - also a teacher.) (See article in Journal 35, Obituary - Miss Muriel J Taylor), and the Brock family. The Brocks had also lived at Owhango when the Reals were there. They were well known supporters of the Salvation Army.
Miss Real served under Headmasters G H Taylor and A E Day, teaching the lower standards. When Mrs Real died in June 1936 (in Auckland Hospital, buried at Waikumete) Lucy moved from the district, transferring to Waharoa School (6 km north of Matamata), and later still, taught at New Plymouth and then at Papatoetoe Primary, from which she retired.