Family in the spotlight on World Diabetes Day


Today, 40 New Zealanders1 will be given the life-changing news that they have diabetes, a condition that not only has a huge impact on the individual but their family, too.

Globally, one person dies from this serious condition every seven seconds.2

Diabetes & Families is the international focus of World Diabetes Day this Wednesday 14 November. The day recognises more than 425 million people worldwide1 who are living with diabetes, including ¼ million Kiwis.2 In New Zealand, Diabetes NZ is highlighting the importance of whānau and how our connections can support us all to live well. 

 “Living with type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes can be a daily or even hourly challenge, but the support of whānau makes it easier for people to manage their symptoms, reduce their risk and live well,” says Heather Verry, CEO of Diabetes NZ.

Because everyone with diabetes needs aroha (love), whānau (family) and tautoko (support) to live well, Diabetes NZ and Mr Vintage have put this important message on a special ‘ChariTee’, available throughout November for Diabetes Action Month. Kiwis can purchase from and 25% of all sales will go to Diabetes NZ to help New Zealanders with diabetes live well.

Type 2 diabetes & families

Genetics, certain ethnicities, diet and lifestyle are all risk factors for type 2 diabetes, with the result that many families include a number of people with the condition, across generations.

“This can lead to the attitude that diabetes and its consequences are unavoidable, which is not the case,” says Mrs Verry.

“We are challenging all Kiwi families to take action today and every day to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes among our family members, or support our loved ones to manage their diabetes and live well,” says Heather Verry, CEO of Diabetes NZ.

“This can be achieved through upskilling diabetes knowledge, choosing healthy food, and incorporating exercise into daily routines,” Mrs Verry says. “Making healthy lifestyle choices is easier when families take action together and support each other.”

The New Zealand Ministry of Health also estimates that for every five Kiwis diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, another two have the condition without knowing it.1

When diabetes is not well managed it can lead to complications including blindness, limb amputations, kidney disease and heart disease.

“To prevent the complications caused by diabetes, it is vital that people are diagnosed and treated early. If families know what to look out for, they can help their whānau to prevent or at least manage their diabetes and achieve better health outcomes,” Mrs Verry says.

Type 1 diabetes & families

For more than 20,000 New Zealanders with type 1 diabetes, the auto-immune condition is most often diagnosed in childhood, meaning parents and families have an active role in helping and supporting their child to live well every day. This requires not only careful eating choices, but also regular doses of insulin and frequent monitoring and testing.

“Every parent of a type 1 child is acutely aware that without whānau, life would be impossible,” says Ruby McGill, Director of Youth for Diabetes NZ. “Family and wider community understanding and support is crucial and can be life-saving in the event of an emergency.”

Act Now To Live Well

November is Diabetes Action Month and Diabetes NZ is encouraging awareness, education and action when it comes to our country’s largest and fastest growing condition.

1.     Know your risk. Everyone is at risk of diabetes, and knowing your risk is the first step to taking action to reduce or delay your risk of diabetes. Diabetes NZ website has a simple test people can do to assess their risk of developing diabetes. (

2.     Know the symptoms of diabetes. The sooner diabetes is diagnosed, the better the outcome can be. If you notice symptoms in yourself, see a healthcare professional; and encourage your whanāu to do the same. Learn more about diabetes on the Diabetes NZ website

3.     Find your support. Talk to your whānau and friends about diabetes, and join the conversation on the Diabetes NZ Facebook page.

Diabetes NZ works alongside champion sponsors Equal, Fitbit and Anytime Fitness to support those with diabetes and to raise awareness in Diabetes Action Month for 2018.



1NZ Ministry of Health:

2International Diabetes Federation:


Released on behalf of Diabetes NZ by Goode PR, Auckland. For more information, or interviews, please contact: Olivia Deadman on +64 9 480 9948 or +64 21 910 022 or email


About Diabetes NZ

Diabetes New Zealand Incorporated is a charity that represents and supports people with diabetes. They have been around for over 50 years and have a national office in Wellington, and branches across the country with staff and volunteers who help people live well with diabetes.

Jo Chapman