Sharing the Christmas spirit with families in need, a community Christmas lunch was held at Manurewa Netball courts, South Auckland. Hosted by the Whānau Ora Community Clinic / Safer Aotearoa Family Violence Prevention Network (SAFVPN), an organisation based in South Auckland that provides social services, healthcare and advocates for some of the most at risk and vulnerable families in the Auckland area.
Delighted with the event, a joyful young Api Mani told Te Kāea, "Everyone is gathered together to celebrate Christmas and I'm quite happy about that because mostly I would stay at home instead of doing this but this is actually kind of good of them doing this because it's Christmas and you have to celebrate."
Community member Marylin Stevens was appreciative of the initiative, saying "Having things like this, it takes a lot of weight off a lot of families because now they can just come together here to a place like this and enjoy each others company and gain new family through the enjoyment of the people here it's beautiful it's really nice.
There were gifts for elderly and every child under 14, a cooked lunch for each person and a food parcel for each family.
Stevens says, "I haven't even got the real food and I'm full, it's cool, no I'm really enjoying this and I'm relaxed, the ambiance is beautiful."
In its 4th year, over 400 people were hosted at the Manurewa Community Day Lunch. The event is made possible through support and donations from several businesses, individuals, and organisations.
Organiser Raewyn Bhana says, "I heard some really sad whānau who said they haven't got anyone or they didn't have kai, I think in the communities things need to change if we all help each other then the need wouldn't be there."
Volunteer Inez White says, "I've just recently started living here in South Auckland from Rotorua, for me, I work in the homelessness and housing and whare area for Māori and I just wanted to give back to a community that I can see there's a need."
There was no shortage of helping hands on deck.
White, who traveled from Wellington to help out at the event says, "My whānau is in Rotorua so I'm from Rotorua but the community Christmas down there always has heaps of volunteers so I just got on google and found somewhere that needed some volunteers as well and booked some tickets."
Bhana says, "Every year it's actually to serve more people in our community and as I do this every year because it's without funding as I've mentioned, it's the generosity of our community so I would like to see is our community give to help us to be able to serve more people in our community."
Organisers are focusing on making it bigger and better next year.