Topic: Christmas

Auckland City Mission boosts thousands of families Christmas spirit

By Oriini Kaipara

Two and a half thousand people flocked to Auckland's viaduct today to take part in New Zealand's biggest Christmas lunch service.

The numbers are reflective of what's been a difficult year in the country's largest city - homelessness.

It's the mission of all missions hosted by the Auckland City Mission.

Chris Farrelly says, “It's been a tough year for many of our whānau this year. Really tough, hanging in growing poverty, food poverty, homelessness - all bad things. We're aware of it, we've seen it in the media."

Those struggles caused a surge in this year's attendance at 2,500.

Farrelly says "We have to end homelessness in NZ. It's the biggest thing and it's the shame of our country that we have people without homes."

There were 600 volunteers. Pamela-Anne Ngohe-Simon and her daughter drove all the way from Moerewa, more than 200kms north.

Pamela-Anne Ngohe-Simon, "There's so many of our Ngāpuhi people that are already here so I was very passionate to come down and awhi our people because I wanted to do something like this up north."

A lot of today's resources was donated, including the food.

Bardy Reweti says ,”The food is delicious. I'm nearly done, but I'm thinking of going over to ask, 'can I have another one please?”

In this room there are around 150 volunteers with black rubbish bags. Each bag contains presents for the 2,000 children who are here today and each present is age-relevant to each child.

Once again the quality of entertainment hit the mark as songstress Annie Crummer made her fifth appearance.

For her first appearance Anika Moa says it was a humbling experience.

When the festive spirit fades out the post-Christmas reality will set in. The Auckland City Mission are still in dire need of help for the many less fortunate.