More than 500 cars park up to support homeless families in south Auckland
It was 11 degrees Celsius in south Auckland on Thursday night.
But outside there was singing, cheering and hugging. Crowds were being fed and hot drinks were distributed. There were smiles, and lots of them.
Around one thousand people showed up to 'Park up for homes' in Mangere, most of whom have chosen to sleep in their cars overnight.
Why? To show solidarity for many Kiwi families who say they are homeless and forced to sleep in their vehicles every night.
* Homeless family with a premature baby sleeping rough in an Auckland marae
* South Auckland cancer sufferer forced to live in van with family
* Homeless Aucklanders could receive $5000 grant to be rehoused out of city
* Government set to give money to Te Puea Marae for housing homeless
Sat in the back of a minivan cloaked in blankets were two brothers, aged three and four, happily gnawing on their own food their mother prepared.
Children as young as four, most in their flannelette pyjamas held signs saying, 'All kiwi kids should live in warm and dry homes', and, 'We are here because we care'.
The event, also known as #parkupmangere, had a pulsing vibe of community as people from down the road to Te Awamutu and Tolaga Bay came together to show families living rough that they were not alone.
Organisers reminded attendees it was a "peaceful protest" as Auckland's housing market reached "crisis point".
Local businesswoman Charlotte Perenara, owner of Massey Road Seafoods, wasn't part of the event team but helped out anyway, holding 'Park up for Mangere' signs and ushering crowds.
She didn't realise "how bad" the situation of families living in vehicles was until she heard that Te Puea Marae, the township's local marae, had opened its doors to the homeless.
So she donated boxes of fresh fish from her store to help feed the overwhelming amount of people.
"At one point we saw our customers living at the marae and we didn't even know," she said.
"Little ones and their parents... it's sad, and we need to support them."
Julie Meagher travelled two hours from Te Awamutu in the Waikato to park up overnight.
She couldn't understand why so many families were homeless in New Zealand as a first world country.
"I really, really, feel for families who live in cars," she said.
"When I really put myself in their shoes, have empathy for them and compassion, I just don't know how they do it. It's really horrible and it's not right and something needs to happen".
Councillor Cathy Casey called over a crowded town centre for Prime Minister John Key, who was invited to the event, but as of 10pm had not shown.
Labour MP's Su'a William Sio and Louisa Wall attended the event.
Sio said the Government was "drunk with arrogance" and that the community knew better about how families were living.
Event co-organiser Justin Latif was blown away with the number of people who had shown.
"With over 500 cars coming it shows this is a serious issue to so many Kiwis," he said.
The event would run from 6pm on Thursday until 6am on Friday.