'Māori Santa Claus' pays early visit

6:59 pm on 15 December 2015

Wellington rapper Pera Barrett, who performs as Percieve, has once again turned into a Māori Santa Claus delivering hundreds of gifts to children in Porirua.

Enele Tuangalu

Enele Tuangalu from Glenview School is all excitement as he opens his present. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

It is the second year that Barrett has rallied the community to donate presents for students at poorer schools.

The campaign is called 'Wellington Shoebox Christmas' and is based on an overseas idea where gifts that fit into a shoebox are given to those in need.

With the help of his employer, BNZ, Barrett brought the idea to Cannons Creek, which is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country.

"Normal to the Creek is very different to normal for a lot of other places in New Zealand, unfortunately.

"This isn't about changing the lives of these kids, because you need to do more than that. But if it makes any of these kids think even for some of the day on Christmas Day that the world is bigger than their home in Cannons Creek then that's the aim," he said.

All up, 300 gifts were donated to students at Corrina and Glenview Schools and the surplus presents were given to Women's Refuge.

Children at Glenview performed a concert for Barrett and his helpers to say 'thank you', with each class singing a Christmas song including 'Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer' and 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'.

Afterwards, they all sat in rows on the school grass area and received their gifts. Within minutes of saying they would put their presents under the tree and wait until Christmas morning, the 100-odd children were tearing through their wrapping paper and seeing what they had got.

Year 5 student Neti Logologo was excited to open her presents.

Pera Barrett

Pera Barrett Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"I got a colouring book for adults and I got a bathroom kit, and I got colouring felts that I like to colour with. And I got a chocolate pudding in this bowl and it looks yummy," she exclaimed.

Petesa Faraimo-Tinilau attended Glenview when she was a child and was there today to see her boys Corban-Aves, five, and Julius, nine, receive their gifts.

"It's actually quite moving to just give the gifts for all these kids who probably are a lot less fortunate."

She said it was nice to see people giving back to the community.

As well as the first Shoebox Christmas last year, Barrett has also fundraised for Glenview in the past by cutting off his dreadlocks.

The school's deputy-principal Lester Mohi said the money went to guitars and sports uniforms.

Mr Mohi, who has been working at the school for 20 years, said the children were very appreciative of what they got and the parents were humbled.

Taipana Hiroti-Teaia is given a present by deputy principal Lester Mohi

Taipana Hiroti-Teaia is given a present by Mr Mohi. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"Pera casts quite a wide net and for us he definitely is a Māori hanakoko [Santa Claus] at this time of year."

Barrett said he just hoped more people would get on board with the cause next Christmas.