Hundreds queue for food

Families in need at Auckland City Mission

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 13:23 21/12/2012

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A festive Christmas is an after-thought outside Auckland's City Mission where a queue of more than 200 people stretches down the road. 

For some, today is their first-time lining up for help along Hobson St, others are regulars and enjoy the company of others as volunteers hand out Christmas treats to those waiting in line.

But all are in the same boat after coming to the realisation they don't have enough money for food this festive season.

Huia Stewart caught a lift to the mission with her sister Mereana Eder and had been waiting in line since 7.30am.

Between them their four children were waiting patiently in the hot sun.

"We're trying to get food for Christmas... this close everyone is struggling," Stewart said. 

"There isn't usually money in our family, but we make do with what we've got.

"I wanted to pay my bills and I have another granddaughter whose sick that I only get $35 a week for but it makes it hard at this time of year."

Stewart went to the mission yesterday as well but left because it was even busier and she knew it was hopeless.

Today she hopes to leave with a food parcel or Work and Income benefit.

"We have moved from that side of the car park to this side so a bigger effort," she said.

"We are just hoping for anything. I don't know what we will do for Christmas."

Auckland City Mission fundraising team leader Liam Willis said about 2000 people will be given mission food parcels and about 3500 will receive benefits this festive season.

The mission will give out around 20,000 donated presents on top of those benefits, and hold a Christmas lunch on Tuesday.

"Everyone who comes will receive something whether it is a mission package or Work and Income benefit," he said.

"The line is getting longer, it's a combination of rising unemployment, lack of opportunity and punitive measures on benefits.

"We buy very little of the toys, people donate them to us, we buy bits of the food parcels but a lot are donated, it all adds up and we are truly grateful."

The mission will be open again on Monday for food parcels.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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