A gesture of love for those in need

By Regan Paranihi
Rangatahi prepare sausages for Christmas Package recipients this morning / Source - File.

The 8 Days of Christmas event kicked off in Auckland this morning. Low income families and beneficiaries received their very own bundle of joy to celebrate the festive season.

It is a time of giving and member of the Manukau Urban Māori Authority, Sarah Sparks, says what better way to do that by giving to those in need.

"Whānau are in need and for us to awhi our whānau that's the gift that we all gift at this time of year."

Deputy Chairman of Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, Bernie O'Donnell (Te Ati Awa) adds, "Families are living in need on a day to day basis. At this time of Christmas this is an initiative where we can give to people around the country."

Ngā Whare Waatea Marae are one of few South Auckland Marae who have teamed up with the Auckland City Mission to bring joy to low income families during the festive season.

"We can buy and give these things to help them. We give resources, money, food and toys for the children," says O'Donnell.

South Auckland residents began to que last night and some came as far as Hamilton to be here today.

Sparks says, "There were several hundred last night at 10pm, when whaea Veronica was leaving about sixty whānau already so they stayed the night."

She also says holding this initiative at the marae makes it easier for people to feel comfortable.

"Whānau prefer to come to the marae, they love the environment here they do feel the aroha, the manaakitanga, the whanaungatanga so this year we see the demand is still great."

However, due to the high demand, it's evident to see that poverty continues to rise here in Auckland.

"I still haven't seen a solution to stop poverty, but if we take a worldwide view on it it’s the same all around and the burden is on the people living in poverty," says O'Donnell.

"It’s fantastic that we can give whānau a Christmas that they dream about," adds Sparks.

The eight days of Christmas initiative will be held in multiple areas throughout Auckland until the end of next week.