West Auckland's Samaratunga triplets always felt guilty that their parents had to buy three of everything. Now all three have returned the favour with scholarships.
Chanel, Chloe and Roselle Samaratunga have each won AUT University scholarships worth $6500 a year for the next three years, and they will make a big difference.
"It's always been a financial struggle for us because it's everything times three - like for a school trip it's not $500, it's $1500," said Chloe.
"We feel kind of bad in a way, we feel like we're asking for so much," said Chanel.
But now they have won "twice over" because they will receive the scholarships on top of the Labour Government's new fees-free first year of tertiary study.
"We took out a loan to buy new laptops. When we get the payment we are going to pay that off," said Chloe.
"The money we have left over we are going to let it sit in the bank account until we need it over the next two years."
The triplets were born in New Zealand but their parents immigrated from Sri Lanka. Both parents have day jobs - dad Rohan as a chef and mum Jacqueline in a shop - but they have also run a speciality cake and catering business, Fresco Foods, from home since the triplets were born 18 years ago.
"They had a restaurant," Chloe said. "The reason they moved home was because of us."
The triplets attended St Leonard's Rd School and then Avondale College, where their paths converged.
"We had our own separate friends, but in our senior years our friends mingled and at the end we were kind of all this one big group," Chanel said.
In their first year at college, they all took up what was then the obscure sport of curling, which has become famous at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
"We saw it in the school paper and we were all like, 'What is this sport?'" Chanel said. "Why don't we give it a go?"
They all joined the college's environmental group, where they sold worm juice and cleaned up Piha Beach, and the Amnesty group "for people who need a voice".
They all took up music. Chanel played the violin, Chloe the keyboard and Roselle the guitar.
In 2016 they helped to start a "women in STEM" group for girls doing science, technology, engineering and maths.
"Science is really interesting because you get to learn about how things around you work," Roselle explained.
Roselle now plans to major in food technology and microbiology, Chloe in geospatial and environmental sciences.
Chanel, who was chief executive of a waffle-making company at college, has opted for a business degree.
They all chose AUT "because it's practical for the workforce", and found the scholarships on the AUT website on their own initiative, scrambling to get the required references and write their submissions just before exams were due at school.
Generosity NZ chief executive Brenda Smith said there were now more than 1700 undergraduate scholarships available for NZ school-leavers, a number that is growing by about 100 a year from new bequests.
She said many donors have made changes because of the new fees-free policy, either reallocating scholarships to cover books, computers or accommodation instead of course fees or allocating them in the first year of study but paying out in the second year.