David Lomas Investigates: Search for Nelson man's missing twin brother ends in sombre discovery

Journalist David Lomas has solved the mystery of what happened to a Nelson man's twin - but this time the emotional reunion that's become a trademark of his investigations wasn't forthcoming.

Eriapa Pepere, a 59-year-old truck driver, has known he's a twin for decades - but conflicting information about what happened after he was adopted has left him searching for answers.

In an episode of Three's David Lomas Investigates that aired on Tuesday night, Pepere learned that despite the mystery that had surrounded his brother for nearly 60 years, he had passed away at birth.

Earlier in the episode, Pepere had explained he'd been passed onto his father's niece for adoption shortly after he was born.

While he enjoyed a pleasant childhood with three adopted siblings, and always kept in touch with his wider whanau, it wasn't meant to be that way. Pepere's biological parents had said they'd leave him with family for a month and come back for him, but never did.

Pepere was told conflicting stories about why this was; some said it was because his parents couldn't afford to keep him, but he also heard they didn't want people to know he existed.

Then, at age nine, Pepere stumbled upon his birth certificate, which stated he was a twin to a brother by the name of Daaren.

It was suggested back then that Daaren had died at birth and been buried in a Masterton cemetery next to his grandfather.

But Pepere always had his doubts as no tangi was ever held for Daaren, and an aunt suggested he may have been taken to Auckland at birth due to disabilities. Pepere had even been alerted to a potential doppelgänger in Whanganui.

Lomas started his investigation by looking into birth and death records - but was mystified when he discovered that despite Daaren's birth being listed, no death certificate had ever been filed.

However a subsequent check uncovered the truth: there was a record of Daaren's death, but it was under his mother's married name.

Daaren was a stillborn - and the reason no tangi was held for him was likely because hospitals in the 1960s used to take deceased babies away, thinking the sight too distressing for the mother.

The moment Pepere learned the news about his twin.
The moment Pepere learned the news about his twin. Photo credit: Three / David Lomas Investigates

Pepera said the discovery was "unreal".

"That's closure, and all the mysteries are gone… it's sad he's not alive but I'm absolutely rapt we get the full story.

"It's been a lot of years, to finally find out that all it was was a name is unreal. That's awesome."

With certainty about what happened to his twin, Pepera was able to visit his brother's gravesite at Masterton Cemetery and share some time with him.

Pepere says the discovery has allowed him to move on, and he looks forward to meeting Daaren in the next life.

Watch the full episode of David Lomas Investigates at ThreeNow. The next episode airs at 7:30pm next Tuesday on Three.