Govt challenged to open xmas purse strings for needy

By Mānia Clarke

The manager of Manukau Urban Māori Authority (MUMA) Whānau Ora says they are unable to meet the demand of whānau coming to Ngā Whare Waatea Marae in South Auckland to receive emergency food parcels.

Veronica Henare has seen many who will have to go without this festive season and is challenging the government to open its purse strings to help.

“You know it broke my heart to have to turn away 200 people,” says Henare.  

Auckland City Mission have been distributing food parcels and gifts from Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, Papakura Marae and Eden Park since last Monday.

Over 3,000 food parcels for more than 12, 600 people have been distributed so far.  However MUMA Whānau Ora chair Tunuiarangi McLean says it’s not enough to meet the demand.

“There needs to be more, because food prices have risen, household needs and house rents remain high,” says McLean.

For the last five days of distribution, people have been arriving the night before, some from as far as Northland, in the hope of getting some kai for Xmas.

Henare is challenging her local MP who is also the Minister of Whānau Ora to come, see the dire need and meet it.

“Auckland City Mission are the ones who donate all our kai through donations,” she says, “How about the government coming out and seeing the real need of what's happening.  Why should we be turning away 200 people?”

“I have no problem with visiting the marae,” says Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare, “It's on my mind to do that, but first I need to finish my responsibilities [at parliament].”

Friday is the last official distribution day.  However, Henare wants the government to foot the cost for the service to remain open up to Christmas day.