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Source: Auckland Council

Since being established at the start of April, the Spark Arena distribution centre has played a critical role in Tāmaki Makaurau’s COVID-19 response.

More than 56,000 boxes of food and essential supplies have been packed and distributed to individuals, families, marae and other community organisations that found themselves needing welfare support due to lockdown.

At its peak, there was a team of more than 80 passionate individuals involved in the operation, made up of those who would normally be working on bringing international acts to the city.

Auckland Emergency Management Group Controller Kate Crawford says, “When we went into lockdown, we immediately knew that getting access to food would be an issue for a large number of Aucklanders, so we made that our area of focus in providing support to those that need it most.

“We started by reaching out to some of the businesses that might be able to help. Countdown could supply the goods, but we had to find a venue that was large enough to accommodate a packing and distribution centre. Spark Arena had already offered its services to act as a temporary medical facility, which thankfully wasn’t required, but their experience in event management meant they were perfect for a distribution centre set-up.

“Getting an operation of this size off the ground in such a short time frame was a real logistical challenge, but thankfully the team at Spark Arena had the transferrable skills that helped us bring it all together quickly.

“The welfare response has been a collective effort from a number of organisations and we want to thank everyone who was involved.”

Spark Arena General Manager Brendan Hines says, “Like many, when lockdown hit our industry was significantly impacted and our workforce – many of whom are contractors – found themselves with little to no income.

“Setting up the distribution centre wasn’t just a lifeline for the thousands of Aucklanders who have received parcels, but also for the team working hard behind the scenes to make it happen.

“The operation was a new challenge for us, but it kept us busy at a time when we welcomed the distraction and we’re grateful to have been given the opportunity to play such a key role in the region’s response.”

The Spark Arena distribution centre closed on Friday 12 June, and the remaining food and welfare items are currently being distributed to marae and other community organisations.