Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Weekes triplets were 'three little monkeys'

Martin and Jane Weekes, whose 2-year-old triplets died when a fire swept through their nursery in Doha earlier this month have remembered their "three little monkeys'' at an emotional memorial service in Wellington.

Inside St Paul's Cathedral, which was filled to near-capacity, a photo montage of Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes was projected onto giant screens while Metallica's Nothing Else Matters played.

A sea of black was dotted with blue, pink and purple as mourners heeded the Weekes' request to wear the triplets' favourite colours.

Martin Weekes spoke about his "three little monkeys'' who came into the world 10 weeks early.

He said he and his wife wanted to share the magic of their children with the rest of New Zealand.

"To some people, all they know about our children is that they are the New Zealand triplets. We wish to share with you some of our memories so you get to share in the magic'' he said.

''(They were) three happy, adventurous, loving and unique little people who brought smiles, joy and laughter wherever they went, to everyone they met.

"We miss them enormously. In the time we had together as a family not a moment was lost.''

He said the family travelled more than 100,000km across the world together; days of "happy mayhem''.

"Exploring the world as a family - the happiest days of our life.''

Mr Weekes held his wife close to him while talking lovingly about his children and repeated her favourite quote: "A mother's love is not divided amongst her children but is multiplied with each child.''

The parents spoke about each child separately, referring to them by their nicknames; Peanut (Lillie), Jacky (Jackson) and Winkie (Willsher).

Lillie was the oldest but the smallest, weighing just 1.1kg when she was born.

"Despite her size - or rather lack of it - she was a pocket rocket, a chatterbox, our climbing tree monkey, a little princess with the bite of a tiny Rottweiler and the most affectionate and cuddly little child.

"Lillie loved Tinkerbell, in fact, secretly, I think she may even be Tinkerbell. She was as close to a little fairy as you could be,'' Mr Weekes said.

Jacky came next, born one minute after Lillie.

Jackson, who they called Jackie, was "a thinker who would sometimes do his own thing''.

"If ever there was trouble, Jackie was more often than not the mastermind. Jackie would take things apart or, taking his brother by the hand, lead Willsher into doing something mischievous,'' Mr Weekes said.

"Jackie was the child who drew on the walls, and when asked smiled like an angel and said `Winkie did it', supported by Lillie, who backed him up she said `yes, Winkie did it'.''

Winkie, not wanting to let his siblings down, would take the fall.

Winkie was a shy boy with big blue eyes and beautiful curly hair who "radiated love'' everywhere he went.

"I'll always remember the feel of his soft little hand,'' Jane Weekes said.

Between eulogies, more photo montages were played. Five for Fighting's Superman (It's Not Easy) and Netherworld Dancing Toys' For Today provided the soundtrack.

As each montage played, tissues were raised and tears were shed.

The triplets' grandfather Ron Turner told the crowd there was "no greater sound than a grandchild saying `hello grandma', `hello poppa''.

He recalled the terrible day when he learned of their deaths.

"Then came that terrible phone call in the early hours of the morning, Tuesday the 29th of May, in our daughter's trembling voice announcing between sobs that her babies were all dead, died through smoke inhalation in a fire in the mall where their school - as they called the daycare centre - was located.

"Our hearts just broke and we were lost. Happiness just evaporated. We flew to Qatar to support Martin and Jane and to bring our babies home.

"The outpouring of love that has been shown to Jane and Martin and our family since that terrible day has been a tonic to us and may be the spark to light the fire of our future happiness but, to be honest, our lives will always have a deep hole that once was filled with Lillie, Willsher and Jackson.''

The Very Reverend Frank Nelson thanked the family for allowing the public into the lives of the children.

I'm sure many of you here today still have questions, he said.

Why? And how? "How could a fire sweep through a children's playcentre?'' he said.

"Let God be the target for your rage.''

"If there is one thing we can all take from today it is to cherish the precious moments we have with those we love,'' he said.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow played as the congregation filed out of the cathedral and three little coffins - one pink, one purple, one blue - were carried out into a waiting hearse.

As they were carried down the cathedral's stairs hundreds of balloons were released, also pink, purple and blue.

The triplets were among 19 people who died in the fire at the Villagio shopping on May 28.

Thirteen were children, four were teachers and the other two firefighters.

Martin and Jane Weekes, a former Wellington couple, returned to New Zealand from Qatar this week to bury their children.

Qatar authorities are investigating the blaze and the wider safety of the mall and childcare centre.

Five people, including the owners of the mall were arrested shortly after the fire.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

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