A massive group of strangers is getting ready to have the biggest Christmas family lunch in New Zealand.
Nearly 2000 people - nearly all of them elderly or poverty stricken- are expected to gather at the Viaduct Events Centre for a festive feed put on by the Auckland City Mission at 12pm today.
Missioner Diane Robertson said many of the attendees are dislocated from society and would have spent the day alone.
Going to the lunch gives them a chance at experiencing the togetherness millions of others take for granted at Christmas, she said.
"Without the dinner they are in a room by themselves, watching programs depicting happy families.
"This way they are sharing their day with other people - people that will be companionable. It means such a lot to such a lot of people."
About 450 people have volunteered to lay tables, peel spuds and prepare meat for the lunch.
Despite that, the operation was nearly derailed a week ago, when a head chef could not been found.
A Herald On Sunday story on the dilemma attracted 70 volunteers - many with extensive restaurant experience.
Restaurant Association apprenticeship coordinator Peter Le Grice was this week picked for the role.
He will oversee the production of a menu that includes ham, chicken, roast potato and kumara, beans and carrots, with jelly and ice cream for dessert, followed by Christmas cake. Every diner will receive a Christmas gift.
Ms Robertson said she expected the event to run with "military" precision.
"It will just flow incredibly well.