Watch out, the teacher's still about

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013
Elderly teacher
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ

CLOSE-KNIT GROUP: Edna Pengelly, 83, left, her sister June Grenfell, 84, and Colin Pengelly, 86, are reunited with their teacher from Shirley Intermediate, Nina Brown, 101, who shows the trio dolls she knits for the City Mission.

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When sisters June Grenfell and Edna Pengelly spotted their former teacher at a Christchurch mall they couldn't believe their eyes.

The sisters, 84 and 83, assumed their Shirley Intermediate School teacher, Nina Brown, died years ago, but there she was, at 101, doing her weekly shopping at The Palms Shopping Centre.

"She has not changed. That's why we recognised her," Grenfell said.

The trio now see each other every Friday at the mall, and this week they met at Brown's Shirley home for the first time, with Pengelly's husband, Colin, who was also taught by Brown.

"She does not look a day older and that is what we could not get over," Edna Pengelly said.

Brown said she remembered them all from her days at Shirley Intermediate.

"I think it's simply wonderful and you all have such nice smiles. It shows you did not have an unhappy schooling," Brown told them.

The sisters attended Shirley Intermediate in 1942 and 43 and remember attending a weekly class with Brown where they would knit items for troops fighting in World War II.

Edna Pengelly said Brown was quite a strict teacher but very good.

"We all knew our place and how far we could go."

Brown taught mostly English and history at secondary schools across New Zealand, including Christchurch Girls' High and Timaru Girls' High, for nearly 40 years.

During the war she taught whatever subject was needed, including woodwork.

Brown has kept up her knitting and now makes teddy bears, dolls, rugs and other knitware to give to the City Mission.

She lives independently at a retirement complex in Shirley and is due to turn 102 in September.

"I don't think I'm doing too badly. I still do my own shopping and cooking," she said.

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- The Press

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