Hundreds of people have queued from dusk to dawn hopeful of collecting an Auckland City Mission food parcel to see their family through Christmas.

The earliest arrive around 9pm the night before, setting up camp for the night and awaiting the 8am opening.

It is only the first 200 people who receive a number and the guarantee of holiday sustenance, the rest are turned away and have to repeat the process another night.

People gather outside the Auckland City Mission collection point at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker
People gather outside the Auckland City Mission collection point at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker

At Eden Park on Wednesday morning, this meant around 100 people went without, and praying they might have more luck before the Friday cut-off.

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Mahinarangi Paul, 19, was among the twilight campers.

"You have to be really quick because there has been a lot of people turned away, but we were here since 9pm last night so I got number 11 out of 200," she said.

"It was tough and kind of cold, and I had a two-year-old running around, so it was long but it was worth it."

Paul, from Manurewa, is a student but her allowance is cut over Christmas while she isn't studying.

"I couldn't really afford presents and it was even a bit of a struggle to get gas to come out here," she said.

"So [support from the Auckland City Mission] is helping a lot."

The Auckland City Mission started distributing these Christmas emergency food parcels and gifts at three locations around the city a week ago.

By Friday, more than 8000 food parcels will have been distributed from Eden Park, Nga Whare Waatea Marae and Papakura marae - twice as many as last year.

City Mission fundraising team leader Alexis Sawyers said these numbers weren't expected.

Workers from the Auckland City Mission at Eden Park during the annual Christmas food appeal. Photo / Greg Bowker
Workers from the Auckland City Mission at Eden Park during the annual Christmas food appeal. Photo / Greg Bowker

"As an organisation we have experienced a 27 per cent increase in requests for emergency food assistance throughout 2018 compared to 2017," she said.

"It shows how many families in our community are struggling just to provide the basics."

Despite the thousands of food parcels being distributed, there aren't enough to keep up with demand.

"We are limited by our resources, we are a charity and want to support every family needing help but can only do what we can," Sawyers said.

"We've had to purchase a large amount of food to top up donations to fill these food parcels, which provide families with basic items for four days and a few Christmas treats.

"We are stretched as far as we can go as an organisation trying to meet this need and are appealing for the help of the community."

For solo mother Wikitoria Maile the Mission's support means her five children will get to enjoy the Christmas festivities.

Maile, 37, is an aircraft cleaner at Auckland Airport, but injured herself and has had to take time off work.

This means she's had to worry about funds and how to cover all the trimmings of the festive season.

"It means so much. It's so much help, especially when I have injured myself and next week there isn't going to be much income," she said.

Wikitoria Maile, with her son 9-year-old Aisea Maile, collect a Christmas parcel from the Auckland City Mission at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker
Wikitoria Maile, with her son 9-year-old Aisea Maile, collect a Christmas parcel from the Auckland City Mission at Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker

Maile is one of many mothers turning to the City Mission to makes ends meet, with around 75 per cent of people in the queues being women, and around 80 per cent supporting families.

Each food package caters for a family of four, with bigger families receiving multiple packages. There is also on option for single people.

Hetaraka Rangikotua, 57, queued for a single food package after facing financial problems.

Rangikotua lived on the streets for several years, but is now on a benefit and living in a flat in Ranui.

"The benefit is only $140 and it is hard to survive on that much a week," he said.

"The City Mission are very helpful people and this food will help me through the Christmas and New Year period."

Veronica Henare, manager of Whanau Ora at the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, said she was disheartened by the number of people seeking support this year.

"Our last day is Friday and I think that is going to be the saddest day of all because there is no next day," she said.

"And if they can't get it here, then where are these people going to get food for Christmas and presents for their tamariki?"

Donated toys and food are distributed to the needy for Christmas. Photo / Greg Bowker
Donated toys and food are distributed to the needy for Christmas. Photo / Greg Bowker

Henare, who is based at the Nga Whare Waatea Marae, is imploring the Government to get behind the appeal.

"It absolutely disheartens me that I have to turn away hundreds of people because we have reached our maximum. How can that happen here in New Zealand?" she said.

"I ask politicians to come down here. I don't want to make it a political football, I just want some support so that we can feed these people, who have absolutely nothing.

"I'm asking for the powers that be to come out and recognise the issues and do something about it before next year, because it will continue to grow unfortunately."

• Auckland City Mission are providing Christmas assistance across the three sites until Friday, December 21. They are also hosting a Christmas Lunch on Christmas Day at Spark Arena for 2000 guests.
• Donations can be made at aucklandcitymission.org.nz or by calling the Mission on 09 303 9200. The Mission's annual Christmas appeal is running until January 14, 2019.