Thousands line up for Christmas food parcels from Auckland City Mission

Hundreds of Auckland families, including babies and pregnant women, are lining up in the middle of the night to secure Christmas food parcels.

The demand is so high, many families are being turned away because there's simply not enough to go around. 

Te Enga Harris arrived at Papakura Marae, where the Auckland City Mission is giving out food, at 3am on Monday morning.

She told Newshub more than 100 people were waiting in front of her, and had clearly camped out all night with blankets and mattresses.

"There were so many people with children and babies. The people have to bring their kids with them.

"There's even pregnant women... [one was] due any day."

Ms Harris says the experience of waiting outside in the dark and cold was "demeaning".

"Lined up like cows going to get milked. That's how I feel about it."

Papakura Marae chief executive Tony Kake is worried those long lines out the door are becoming the norm.

"People were arriving at six o'clock last night and right through until the early hours of the morning just to make the first cut."

He says the Mission can only provide 250 families with food parcels at the sites each day.

"Sadly, most of them are prepared for the overnight stay."

This December the Mission is giving out basic food items, as well as Christmas presents for children, at Eden Park, Papakura Marae and Ngā Whare Waatea Marae.

CEO Chris Farrelly says the new locations give people in need more privacy and dignity than lining up outside the Mission on Hobson St.

He told Newshub about 12,000 packs were given out last week, and warned the demand had doubled.

"We are desperate for financial assistance because we're now having to purchase some food - a good deal of it," he says.

"We know we will be working right up to the wire."

He says the Mission is anticipating "absolutely large numbers" in the last week before Christmas.

Ms Harris told Newshub she didn't want to queue for food, but was forced to because her "cupboards were bare".

"I'm really disgusted we have to do this, but we have to do it."