Back to the books for Northland youngsters

By Hannah Norton

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CAPTION: Twins Luke (left) and Boston Himiona, 7, will start back at primary school on Tuesday. PHOTO/RON BURGIN
CAPTION: Twins Luke (left) and Boston Himiona, 7, will start back at primary school on Tuesday. PHOTO/RON BURGIN

Northland students are heading back to school during the next two weeks and hundreds of teachers are preparing for the onslaught.

"For teachers it is a very busy time right now," said Tai Tokerau Principals' Association president Pat Newman.

Primary, intermediate and secondary school students will head back between Monday and February 7, depending on the school.

Whangarei twins Boston and Luke Himiona have their books ready, bags packed and uniforms sorted for the start of the new school year next week.

For the first time, however, the 7-year-old fraternal twins will be in different classes at St Francis Xavier School when they start on Tuesday.

When asked if he is going to miss his twin brother being in his class, Luke replied: "No."

And when their mother Tracey Himiona suggested the pair might meet up for lunch, Boston said: "Probably not."

The boys have been placed in separate classes because of their different strengths, she said. Boston, the older twin by 30 minutes, is best at English and art, while Luke's best subject is maths.

The twins are the youngest of five school-aged boys in the family.

Mrs Himiona's eldest son is in Year 11 at Whangarei Boys' High School and starts on Friday.

The second eldest goes back to Kamo Intermediate on Friday, and the third is back at St Francis Xavier School with the twins.

"It's a very expensive time of the year," Mrs Himiona said.

Costs include stationery (she estimates about $50-$60 per child, $100 for the eldest in high school), uniforms (about $100 per child), school bags (about $30) and school fees and camp, which differ with each school.

But the biggest cost is probably associated with feeding five boys, around $200 in groceries a week just for lunch. "It's a loaf of bread a day," she says.

Students are often ready to go back to school by now, Mr Newman said, noting: "Usually by this stage they are bored and want to get back."

And parents are often looking forward to them going back to school, too, he laughed.

But the cost of going back to school is no joke.

"I have no doubt that the money side of things will be a huge concern at the moment, particularly for parents of children in two or three schools," he said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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