Christmas comes early for impoverished families

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Families have been lining up since 5 pm last night to take advantage of the “8 Days of Christmas” initiative spearheaded by the Auckland City Mission. For Gus Manu (Tainui) and his whānau, making the trip from Tokoroa to Papakura marae was worth the journey.

“Doing things like this for the community and for the families, this is mean, this is awesome. This is what you call love," says Manu.

For the next 8 days, the first two hundred families will receive presents for their kids, a food parcel and they will also receive a top-up on their green card, and depending on the size of the family, this could equate to over $400.

Families started lining up as early as 5 pm yesterday at Papakura Marae, Papakura. Source / File

CEO of Papakura marae, Tony Kake (Ngāti Hau, Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Whāwhākia) was up at 4:30am this morning with his team preparing food, is grateful for the number of people supporting this kaupapa.

“Really love, gratitude, around being humble, I’m just pleased to be a part of this whole process. But it saddens me as well that there’s a demand for kai, that there's a shortage of pūtea.

“But at the same time I’m really glad to be a part of Auckland City Mission, working with WINZ to bring this to our whanau. At this time of the year bro it's so desperately needed, so if we can bring a smile to a whanaus face, well to me that's all worth it.”

Kaimahi were up at 4:30 am this morning preparing food parcels for the families in need Source / File

The Auckland City Mission is spearheading this event for the second year, combining with four different communities in the city. Papakura Marae, Ngā Whare Waatea at Manukau, Eden Park and Vision West all kicked off their services today. 

Missioner Chris Farrelly visited Papakura marae, and expressed how important such events are to community members, citywide. 

“This is our work, every single day of the year we do this. We've seen a 40 percent increase this year, in terms of emergency food. We knew that that would then be reflected in our pre-Christmas services."