Having two sets of twins at an early childhood centre would be fairly unusual but Jodi Bryant discovers a local kindergarten that has four...
When it comes to remembering children's names, most teachers have it sorted within a few days. But for the teachers at Onerahi Kindergarten, it's a little more tricky.
You see, in amongst the 60 kids on the roll, there are four sets of twins, three of which are identical. And they certainly like to keep teachers on their toes with the name-guessing game.
Head teacher Madhu Graham says in her 21 years as an early childhood teacher she has only taught two sets of twins at the same time and that was many years ago.
"When Abigael and Maria joined kindergarten last year, I was delighted to have twins at kindergarten again after Jai and Jayla left in 2013. This year, when Jorja and Mimi and Chloe and Lucy started within two weeks of each other, it was pretty amazing. I have known these girls since they were little - they used to come in for drop-off and pick-ups when their older sisters were attending kindergarten. The same goes for Lockie and Cole. Their big sister Bella came here; so just quietly, I was expecting them to come to Onerahi Kindergarten."
While Chloe and Lucy (three) are non-identical; Abigael and Maria (four), Jorja and Amelia (known as Mimi) and Cole and Lockie (all three) are identical.
Madhu says, although the teachers try their best to call them by their correct names, there is the odd slip-up with the identical twins. Strangely, their peers seem to have it sorted.
"Sometimes teachers have trouble distinguishing one from the other. For some reason, our children are able to tell which one is which. Often teachers are apologising because they have used the wrong name but the twin knows who they are and quickly correct teachers.
"Parents and whanau are so helpful and try to make things easier for teachers so that we don't get them muddled up."
However, despite efforts from the families, the twins, at times, change their outfits, leaving the teachers scratching their heads.
Explains Madhu: "Jorja is supposed to wear pink and Mimi wears purple. Guess what? They wear whatever they like - even their mum does not have a say in the matter. She made necklaces for the girls using their favourite colors, but that hasn't helped the teachers as the girls change those necklaces around. Even their mum Jess gets them muddled up. Jess said that sometimes she is growling one of the girls, only to be told by that child that the one she is growling at is, in fact, the wrong one."
Madhu says, although the twins are alike, their own personalities shine through.
"Nana said that Lockie was born first and he seems to control most situations, whereas Cole just goes along with it.
"An example of this was, recently Cole and Lockie were playing in the block area. One of the teachers commented that the boys may need changing. I was toileting the children that day so I approached the boys and asked quietly if someone needed changing. Lockie pointed to Cole and said: 'It's Cole.' I asked Cole if he needed changing and he nodded and came with me to get changed. All was well - no poos. I went back and said: 'I think you need changing Lockie.' 'No, I haven't done poos,' Lockie said convincingly. 'It's Cole.' I informed Lockie that I had just changed Cole and it was his turn. Reluctantly Lockie went to the bathroom and got freshened up. When I told Nana about this incident, she laughed and said: 'That sounds like Lockie!'
"It must be a comfort for them also to know that their brother or sister is nearby," Madhu continues. "Chloe and Lucy had their big sister Jade until recently. Jade was like a 'mother hen' caring for her little sisters. Now she has gone to school, teachers are getting to know the sisters really well. Lucy is independent and goes about doing what she loves. Chloe will often check on Lucy making sure all is well. They are very caring towards each other."
Then there's Abigael and Maria, who 'have each other's back and join forces to stand united when needed'.
"The teachers feel privileged to be a part of the twins' learning journey. It has been fascinating getting to know the four sets of twins and observe the unique bond they share."