Gang member grateful for Angel Tree gifts

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Angel Tree workers are delivering donated gifts to children around the country whose parents are in prison.  Mongrel mob member, Hendrick Tiata says he's grateful for the joy the presents bring to his eight children who are part of the annual programme.

Xmas has come early for Mr Tiata's children, because of Angel Tree.

“We're so thankful, that they've been there for us.  Many ways we cannot afford to get presents or anything for the kids.  But Angel Tree as you see has provided a lot of things, social gatherings and presents, as well as food parcels for us,” says Tiata.

For the last three years Tiata's children have been receiving gifts.  Tiata was released from prison in 2013, and support from Angel Tree has been ongoing.

“They've provided things like training, some training for my son.  Pete's been here for me since I came out of jail.”

PFNZ Angel Tree Youth Co-Ordinator Peter Rakanui says, “There's families who are struggling, they don't actually have the finances or there's nothing under the tree.  You go in the house and they just don't have anything.”

Prisoner Fellowship NZ (PFNZ) Angel Tree began in 1983.  It operates in 90 countries world-wide.  Nearly 4,000 gifts have been donated this year which were wrapped and delivered by 720 volunteers.

“There's a huge community of volunteers who actually get behind us and support us and do the work, buy the presents, ship them to us and distribute them in the community as well,” says Rakanui.

PFNZ Angel tree plan to organise monthly family gatherings next year.