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WHANGAREI LEADER, NOVEMBER 9, 2010
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School bus cost
family of triplets
By DENISE PIPER
A Whangarei family is facing a
hefty bill to send their teenagers to
their preferred high school.
Next year it will cost $87 a week
in bus fares to send 13-year-old
triplets Sophie, Zoe and Libby Jen-
nings to Kamo High School.
The girls live in Ngunguru and
their closest school is Tikipunga
Until now, Whangarei students
were able to catch a free bus to their
closest high school and then pay for
a transfer bus to get to their school
But next year Whangarei is being
brought in line with Ministry of
Education policy which means
students not going to their nearest
school pay the full bus fare.
Students also have to get written
consent from their nearest school to
use the school s bus.
The triplets mum Lesley
Armstrong-Jennings says the policy
means a huge financial cost to the
family, despite their chosen school
being only a few kilometres away
from their nearest.
Lesley has a business in
Ngunguru so is not able to drive the
girls to school.
Her husband is a fitter turner
who was made redundant during
the recession and now works in
Auckland, where the family have to
pay rent as well as a mortgage.
Lesley says Kamo High School is
the ideal high school for the triplets,
who this year are attending Kamo
Sophie is a top sports player and
hopes to join the school s high per-
formance centre. Zoe is a singer
looking forward to the school s
music facilities, while Libby is an
academic looking for a challenge.
Prime Minister John Key was
told about the family s situation
during a recent public meeting in
But he says Whangarei must
comply with the nationwide policy
on school bus fares.
If we change it in Whangarei
we ve got to change it in the
Hawke s Bay and other areas, he
If we let people go wherever they
want, the cost of school buses goes
through the roof, so we encourage
them to go to the local school.
Mr Key says couples with chil-
dren on a modest to average income
are supported by the Working for
Families scheme, paying no tax or
getting a rebate worth more than
their tax. But Mr Key acknowledges
he has been investigating if the
Ministry of Social Development can
help with the cost.
Lifetime of photos stolen with laptop
By DENISE PIPER
Stolen memories: Angela Lawrence and two-year-old daughter Charlee want
photos returned from the family's laptop, which was stolen from their house.
A 10-year-old girl is being praised
for her bravery after scaring off
two offenders inside her Regent
Tabitha Williams got up for a
drink on Wednesday night when
she found two strangers in the
She told them to get out of the
house before waking her parents,
who called the police.
But her mother Angela Law-
rence says the offenders still
managed to take the family s
laptop, which is full of photos.
The police dogs were able to
track one alleged offender but the
laptop is still missing.
Praise God they didn t harm
my daughter, she was so calm and
collected, Mrs Lawrence says.
If it wasn t for her, who knows
what else they would ve taken.
Mrs Lawrence is now appealing
for the digital photos to be
The computer had a lifetime of
photos on it, including ones of
daughter Charlee as a premature
baby, a pet cat which has just
died, special birthdays and wed-
The laptop is locked by a pass-
word and has little value to any-
one other than the family, Mrs
I just want the hard drive back.
I don t care about the computer,
insurance will cover that, it s just
the hard drive that means so
much to us.
She is appealing for anyone who
may have come across the laptop,
possibly stashed somewhere, to
The laptop or hard drive can be
returned to Whangarei police or
anonymously to the Whangarei
Leader at 138 Bank St.
Police have apprehended a
15-year-old offender who will be
referred to Youth Aid.
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