Members of Multiples Whangārei and Northland gathered under a mural by Mike Tupaea and Charles Williams on Saturday to celebrate Multiple Birth Awareness Week.
Northland parents of twins came together to raise awareness about the difficulties families that have had multiple births face that many say are often hidden from public view.
Ten sets of twins, a set of triplets, and their siblings, parents and extended whānau met on Saturday as part of New Zealand Multiple Birth Awareness Week in front of Whangārei’s Pocket Park mural.
The painting tells the tale of a Māori legend about twins sisters Reitu and Reipae who, legend says, travelled on the back of a kārearea [giant falcon] to Whangārei from Waikato to wait for their brothers.
Multiples Whangārei and Northland co-ordinator Rosie Ponifasio-Hughes said twins come with a plethora of challenges, including sleep deprivation and financial struggles.
She said post-natal depression and family violence also disproportionately impact multiple birth families. Research has previously shown mothers of multiples had 43 per cent greater odds of post-partum symptoms.
Multiples New Zealand is a volunteer-run organisation that provides support for families who have had multiple births. Here in Northland, they support families from Wellsford to Cape Reinga and meet once a month.
Ponifasio-Hughes explained it was nice to meet on a weekend so fathers could also join in on the socialising.
“It’s also important to say we’ve [the volunteers] survived twins ourselves, so we truly do understand all of those struggles,” she said.
Ponifasio-Hughes explained parents of multiple babies in the Far North struggle to access resources, so they are there to provide support where they can.
“I think lots of people hear ‘twins’ or ‘triplets’ and [think] there’s quite a cutesy novelty to that,” she said. “They see a double pram, and everybody gets caught up in that.”
She said extra support for families is a key aspect of what is needed.
“You just can’t leave the house with two toddlers,” she joked. “There’s not one fenced playground.”