Hundreds turn out for Park Up For Homes event

Author
Newstalk ZB staff ,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Thursday, 16 June 2016, 8:47PM
Setima Autagavaia, 4, in the back of his family vehicle at the Park Up for Homes event in Mangere Town Centre (Jason Oxeham).

A couple hundred people in their warmest winter woollies gathered in a South Auckland suburb carpark to sleep in their cars tonight, to show support for people sleeping rough in the city.

LISTEN ABOVE: Caroline calls in to Marcus Lush Nights after having been at the event

Hot chocolate and sausage sizzles were given to those who came out to Mangere Town Centre to brave the cold night ahead sleeping their cars. 

Mangere Town Centre carpark is packed with people and their cars this evening as they prepare to sleep in their cars.

Most have come well-prepared, equipped with sleeping bags, blankets and pillows ready for the chilly night ahead.

Papatoetoe resident Reece Autagavaia brought along his two sons Setima, 4, and Taumai, 2 for the night, sleeping in a van with a mattress in the back seat.

MORE: Key questioned why no National MPs are attending homelessness event

The two young boys drew plenty of attention from others as they played on a game device in the opened boot of the van.

Their aunt, Sina Faumuina, also here for the night, said the boys were enjoying themselves and thought they were camping.

Mr Autagavaia said the family decided to head along tonight as homelessness was a "reality" in the country.

"It's our little way of saying that this is not good enough. No child should live in a car."

Mrs Faumuina said she couldn't imagine "enduring it day in and day out".

"We're here to support them [homelessness] and bring about the awareness it deserves."

Dozens of volunteers were preparing sausage sizzles and hot drinks for the people rugged up in their jackets and scarves.

Children running around the carpark, some already in their pyjamas were sipping on a milo and eating sausages from the barbecue.

While there were some already retreating to their cars, most were huddled around the small area in the carpark which was brightly lit, talking and laughing with their friends and family. 

A mother and son travelled quite a long way to sleep in their rented-out station wagon tonight.

Julie Meagher and her 19-year-old Noah, travelled from Te Awamutu to show support.

"It's not right that people in New Zealand should be homeless, especially families."

"We have lived a very blessed life but we as humans should have compassion and empathy for people that are going through hard times....we really care about what they have to go through."

"We just want to show solidarity to show we care, that new Zealanders do care and that it's wrong and something should be done about it."

Labour MP Su'a William Sio is among those sleeping rough.

"I'm not looking forward to it because I just know how cold it is outside. I know how cold it is in garages where I often will visit families. I know how cold it is in many of the homes, so imagine what it's like to sleep in a car with no insulation."

Green MP Marama Davidson will sleep in her car tonight, a move she said she's taking to show solidarity with the homeless.

Ms Davidson said it's a small thing she can do to show New Zealanders she cares, and that as an MP, she'll do everything in her power to speak out and speak up for them.

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