Megan Alatini had not planned on celebrating the big 4-0. A few months earlier, her husband, former All Black Pita, had his same milestone birthday pass by without fanfare and she thought hers would be the same – but Megan’s closest gal pals weren’t having a bar of it.
Unbeknown to her, six of the Air New Zealand flight attendant’s besties – the “titty committee” – masterminded four days of celebrations, culminating in a surprise bash on Auckland’s stunning Waiheke Island.
“After being wined and dined at my favourite restaurant on the island, then treated to a pamper session, I walked down the driveway of the place we were staying to be greeted with the most beautiful karanga – and I just lost it,” says Megan of the moving Maori welcoming penned by one of her girlfriends.
“Then Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy Birthday’ starts playing, and about 60 of my closest family and friends break out in a massive song and dance. It was incredible! I truly felt so blessed to be surrounded by such thoughtful, incredible people.”
While Megan, who turned 40 on September 29, has always believed age is just a number, after partying until the wee hours that evening, she admits that she doesn’t bounce back quite like she used to. But that’s not the thing that’s making her feel older.
“I have a 21-year-old,” laughs the mum-of-three, looking at Tonica. “My little girl is an adult! I could be a grandmother any day now, but you wouldn’t do that to me, would you?”
“Don’t worry, Mum!” replies Tonica, who is a stylist and a blogger in Dubai but is back in Auckland to visit her parents. “It’s going to happen one day, but I’m just focused on myself for now. You’ve taught me there’s nothing wrong with being a young mother, but I want to get married first.”
Interrupting, proud rugby coach Pita adds, “If it does happen, you’d be the hottest grandmother there is!”
While she’s clearly touched by her man’s kind words and looks sensational in our photo shoot, Megan is humble. “No, darling, the greys have started to show and gravity has kicked in like nobody’s business,” she says. “But I’ve learnt to embrace the natural me – warts, hanging boobies and all!”
The former TrueBliss singer – who is also mum to daughter Tiara, 13, and son Trey, 11 – continues, “It’s funny because I had a bit of a panic before I turned 30, when I was about half this size. I was worried about my body, but now I don’t give a damn.
“I look back 10 years and I wish I’d appreciated myself more then. I was looking good but internally, I was a mess. Now it’s the opposite, but I’m in such a better place, emotionally and spiritually. Maybe I’ve finally grown up!”
Megan says it’s partly thanks to Tonica, who she had when she was just 18. “Through her, I’ve learnt so much over the years,” she explains. “Tonica is the reason Pita and I have made so many of the decisions we’ve made. Now I see this grown, developed woman in front of me who is so sure of where she’s going – much more than I am.”
At this, Tonica bursts into tears and tells us how Megan has shaped her into the person she is. “She’s taught me about following and achieving my dreams,” Tonica says as her mum also starts to well up. “But most importantly, she’s told me to always be myself, to do the right thing, and to always treat people with respect and love.”
As the two women get their make-up retouched, we chat to the family’s youngest, Trey, about his parents. “They’re doing well – they don’t look too old!”
Tiara agrees. “I always joke about them getting old, but Mum still gets mistaken for my sister. She looks so good for her age, although she’s a bit embarrassing when she dances.”
Laughing, Pita says he’s slowed down in the past few years. “I’m a little bit more lazy with the fitness, as the body can’t take it quite so much.” As for Megan, she’s ready to step it up it a notch. “Being 40 does feel different because I’ve made a conscious effort to make new goals.
“In the week leading up to my birthday, I was like, ‘Forty is such a grown-up number – have I done it justice?” she says. “But mixed up with that anxiety was excitement. Sometimes I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life, but I have beautiful children, I’ve had a couple of successful careers and I appreciate my life so much more now than a few years ago.”