An event today to help beneficiaries access support from Work and Income (WINZ) in South Auckland was overwhelmed by hundreds of struggling people.
Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) organised the three-day 'impact' event at the Mangere Work and Income Office in coordination with the Ministry of Social Development.
Spokesperson Sue Bradford told Newshub an additional 30 WINZ staff and more than 100 AAAP volunteers were working overtime to try and help people, some of whom had waited more than five hours to be seen.
Ms Bradford says there was so much demand the organisation had to start turning people away just after midday, with some having queued since 6:30am.
"The irony is that what we're doing over these three days is what WINZ should be doing every day," says Ms Bradford.
"It's a sad indictment on the Government, and the desperation of these people shows how big the problem is."
An AAAP volunteer assists with paperwork. (NZAAAP/YouTube)
AAAP says in its last impact event in Mangere in 2014, it helped more than 500 people.
This year the group aims to help more than 700, but Ms Bradford believes the need is greater than ever.
"The first day is usually the quietest, but if today is anything to go by we may have to turn people away, which we don't like to do," she says.
Ms Bradford added that most of those who were seen today went away hopeful.
"One woman who had been sleeping a car with her kids until recently had just got a house," says Ms Bradford.
"She didn't own a thing so we helped her get basic items such as beds and a washing machine. These are basic things a compassionate welfare system should assist with."
The impact will go until this Thursday, and anyone wanting assistance is recommended to arrive early.