Blessed with 60 grandchildren

Big family celebrates its newest arrival

MELISSA KINEALY
Last updated 05:00 21/09/2011
Tere Tangauru Mii Tangauru Mii Teremoana Anthony Junior Onongauru Manase Witehira.
SIMON WATTS/Fairfax NZ

SIXTY SOMETHING: Tere and Mii Tangauru with daughter Mii Teremoana and their 60th grandchild Anthony Junior Onongauru Manase Witehira.

Tere Tangauru Anthony Junior Onongauru Manase Witehira
SIMON WATTS/Fairfax NZ
OH BABY: Tere Tangauru with his 60th grandchild Anthony Junior Onongauru Manase Witehira aged three months.

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Congratulations on your new grandchild.

Tere and Mii Tangauru have heard those words more than most grandparents - Anthony Junior Onongauru Manase Witehira is the Papakura couple's 60th grandchild.

Nicknamed AJ, he weighed in at 2.78kg - or 6lb 2oz - when he was born at 12.01am on June 15.

He might be at the end of a very long list of grandkids but he holds a no less special place in his grandparents' hearts.

AJ's third name - Onongauru - means the number 60 in the Cook Islands where his grandparents are from, so he won't be forgetting his place in the rankings.

His grandparents were grateful to be in the country when he was born. They have 12 children, two of whom they adopted, and spend their time between Rarotonga, Papakura and Australia while visiting family.

It is a truly international family - their children have married partners from a range of backgrounds including Portuguese, Tuvaluan, Samoan, Tongan, Maori, Australian and British.

Keeping up with the names, ages and birthdays of their extra large brood is no easy feat.

Mii says she keeps track of everyone's birthdays in her head but  does have to count on her fingers to work out she's got 18 grandkids in New Zealand and the rest in Australia.

''It's all blessings,'' she says.

''In the beginning we gave them presents at Christmas and birthdays but it's too expensive now.''

Photos of their family cover a fair amount of wall space in their lounge and get-togethers are busy affairs with the families mainly meeting at each other's houses for barbecues because they're easier when there are so many to feed.

Family members based in Auckland meet every Sunday at Papakura East Presbyterian Church.

They had their first full family reunion in 2003 and Tere says he'd like to have them every three years.

At 72 years old he reckons he's still got plenty of energy to socialise with the grandkids no matter what their age.

Watch: AJ and his granddad Tere

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- Papakura Courier

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