A homeless man has been found dead, huddled under his sleeping bag at the back of a church - the second known such death of a homeless person in two weeks as a polar blast grips the nation.

The man was found on Tuesday morning as Manurewa Methodist Church set up its weekly soup kitchen for the homeless.

Manurewa mum Beverley Losefa, who organises the soup kitchen, thought he was sleeping in. But when they served the first cup of tea and he still hadn't risen she became worried.

Police were called and confirmed the man had died, before they cordoned off the area.


Losefa was heartbroken to see the man die without his family. She spoke through tears about how lonely and cold he must have been to take his final breath outside the church they call "the corner of hope".

"I'd never forgive myself if it was someone I knew. I hope no one loses someone this way," she said.

"We know what it's like to lose a loved one. We all cried, even the minister did."

They blessed the area with holy water and sung a karakia, she said. She later heard that the man's nickname was Kingi.

Counties Manukau Police Sergeant Scott Dixon said officers found a 59-year-old man dead on the grounds of the Manurewa Methodist Church.

The hard concrete step where the man was found. Photo / Sarah Harris
The hard concrete step where the man was found. Photo / Sarah Harris

"It is believed the man was of no fixed abode and there are no suspicious circumstances."

The matter was referred to the coroner.

Rough sleeper Keith Darryl Johnson's death on July 1 was called a "national shame". He was found dead on the bench he usually slept on in an Onehunga cemetery.

City Mission general manager Helen Robinson said the deaths were an "absolute tragedy" and showed the reality of rough sleeping. Winter exacerbated their vulnerability, she explained.


It has rained every day since the beginning of the month in Auckland and temperatures have plummeted into the single digits.

A homeless person's body was 20 years older than their true age due to the physical and mental stress they went through, Robinson said.

"This is an opportunity for Auckland city to really question ourselves. What can we do as a society to respond to this?"

Losefa agreed, she wanted the Government and the community to pitch in and do more.

It was a "needle in a haystack" trying to find the right way to get a homeless person into safe, secure accommodation, Losefa said.

"Don't ignore them, they are people who need help.

"They're just people who've got nowhere to go."