While for many Christmas means a day off catching up with family, eating and drinking and attending church services, around the country thousands of New Zealanders will be working.

NZ sharemilker of the year Enda Hawe said for him today was be business as usual, starting at 4.45am.

"The cows have Christmas but they stay working _ so we stay working because they do.''
After milking the cows and making sure that they were fed, Mr Hawe said he hoped to be home by 8am - just in time for the kids to get out of bed.

"I'll spend most of the day at home and then I'll have one other staff member - he'll milk in the afternoon.


"My inlaws will call around for Christmas dinner, it will be fun just spending time with the children.''

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said while farmers will be enjoying Christmas like everybody else, it is also the busiest time of the year on the farm.

"Our big break tends to come mid-year during winter. Don't get me wrong; we will be celebrating but in between work on the nation's farms.

"Christmas is also a great time to have your family all around you participating in farm life.

"At this time of the year we are often hosting friends and relatives too. What a wonderful way to discover what the country is and to see what farming is really like.

"I guess if you don't know a farmer, then try a farm stay for a completely new experience these holidays.''

However, it won't just be farmers getting stuck in. Emergency service staff, food workers, nurses, doctors, chefs, bar workers, airline staff, petrol station attendants, rest home workers and even journalists will be among those fronting up to work today for business as usual.

Irene Rama from the Auckland City Mission said she would be working from 9am to 8pm at the Mission's drop-in centre for anyone who found it hard to go down to the main lunch.


Around 2500 people are expected to attend the Mission's Christmas lunch at the Viaduct Events Centre today.

"We'll still be serving lunch to the people that can't handle a lot of people.''

Ms Rama said she offered to work this year as she hadn't worked for the past two, and wanted to "give someone a break''.

She said the people would make tomorrow special.

"You get to know them so well over the years, and you sort of see a couple of generations come through.

"I really enjoy it.''