Lillian Marie Elise Macmillan by Ellen McCormack
Lillian was the youngest child born to Donald and Marie Macmillan (neé Barca).
Her parents and three other siblings arrived on the May Queen in 1881 as part of the George Vesey Stewart Special Settlement to Te Puke. However, her father Donald could not see the sea from his allocated land in Te Puke so he purchased Castle Grace from Fitzgibbon Louch in Katikati and the family moved there instead.
Lily, as she was known, was the only child born in New Zealand and was born at her parents’ home Castle Grace, Kauri Point, Katikati on 26 February 1883.
In the early years there was a school fairly close to the Macmillans’ home, but when Lily was about seven years old she arrived at school one morning to find that it had burned down during the night.
To continue her schooling she now had a long walk from the house, then down a very steep bank to the Uretara River where one of her brothers would row her across to the end of Park Road and then another long walk of over a mile to the No. 2 school in Beach Road, Katikati.
After school the process was repeated in reverse and Lily told of having to walk through the pa to get to the Uretara river, and if one of her brothers had not arrived to collect her she said one of the Maoris would get out their big canoe and paddle her across the river to Kauri Point.
In the meantime it was decided that the replacement school would be built nearer to the main Tauranga highway as it would service more children. This now meant another change of school for Lily and an eight-mile trek in a different direction.
At one stage she had a bike, but was not impressed when it burst a tyre, so on her own initiative she bought a horse for 15 pounds from a neighbour who happened to be passing, leading a spare horse. From that day on Lily never looked at a bike again and became a great horse rider with her mare Penny.
Lily became a schoolteacher and her appointments were in some very remote places where she was mainly the sole teacher. She rode her horse to these country areas all over New Zealand and it has been recorded that one weekend she even rode from Auckland to Katikati.
At one time when Lily was living in Tauranga she left a small boy holding her horse while she went in to a shop. She said she heard a clip-clop and there was Penny leading the poor boy in to the shop.
Lily was the person who loaned the money to the Katikati Roads Board for the first telegraph poles to be erected in the Katikati district. The poles were to be black wattle posts, the amount was 180 pounds and the year 1914. The documentation regarding this loan covers many pages, as this really was an incredible achievement for any woman, let alone a single woman working for a pittance as a schoolteacher.
This remarkable woman was also a very fine needlewoman and was involved with community affairs wherever she lived. At one of the schools where Lily was stationed she is recorded as being the coach for the rugby team.
In later life Lily retired to live in 8th Avenue in Tauranga, where she was a great supporter of Holy Trinity Church and was involved with many local organisations.
I remember Lily as a versatile and incredible lady. She died on 19 June 1969 aged 84 and is buried in the Katikati Cemetery.