Papakura & Manurewa marae provide Christmas lunch for families in need

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

Papakura Marae is set to join forces with Manurewa Marae tomorrow to provide a Christmas lunch for hundreds of South Auckland families in need. Te Kāea caught up with some of the 50 volunteers as they prepare for the big feast.

It might not look like much now, but tomorrow Papakura Marae will make the effort to put the Christmas spirit back into the lives of many struggling South Auckland families.

George Ngatai / Kaiwhakahaere says, “When we first started this initiative, there were 300 families that came. Last year we had 400 and this year we have 600 families coming and that number is still climbing.”

The sad reality prompted Whaitiaki Trust to branch out to the South Auckland communities despite the efforts of Manurewa Marae who started their Christmas feast three years.

Anne Rotarangi-Kendall / Kaiwhakahaere Matua says,”Last year what some of our whānau said is that they couldn’t make it to Manurewa because it was too far, so we've set it up here so they can access that, and I guess the numbers that registered highlight that, that need is actually there.”

110 families have been registered for the Christmas lunch tomorrow and 600 people will be fed between Manurewa Marae and Papakura Marae.

Rotarangi-Kendall says, “What you see in front of you is 96% donations and sponsorship, so some of our key ones was, we had a gentleman in Dury gave us a thousand dollars to donate towards children presents, we have Ngāpuhi Rūnanga donate $500 towards presents, we've had the Salvation Army donate food, donate gifts, donate decorations.”

The marae has provided the venue free of charge.

Ngatai says, “We want to help people start up things like this, so everyone benefits from it. It doesn't matter if you're Māori, non-Māori, Indian, if you don't have any family around at this time come on down and join in the festivities.”

50 volunteers will take Christmas Day off tomorrow and spend it with some of Auckland's most needy families.