Surprise for grieving family
A Tauranga widower and his six children have had a special Christmas delivered when they couldn't have needed it more.
Richard Pearson was wondering how he could give his six-child family a happy holiday after losing his wife Georgina at the end of November and struggling to buy presents for the kids.
So when cousin and old best mate from Te Puke High School, Kramer Ronaki, heard that radio station ZM was organising a special Christmas giveaway he had to nominate his grieving friend. Mr Ronaki, who now lives in Auckland, hadn't seen his cousin for a few years when he had attended Mr Pearson's wife's tangi in Te Puke.
"When I heard his wife had passed away I had to go down. It was just quite devastating to see him and his family at the funeral. His wife was a strong person for the family," he said.
When he heard about the radio competition for a deserving family, Mr Ronaki knew who to nominate. "I thought straight away, this fella deserves it. He's taken on the responsibility as a father of six kids.
"They didn't have any presents in their house or any Christmas tree in their house. I just thought this man deserves it more than anyone else. He's not the biggest man but he's got a big heart," he said.
The giveaway was called ZM's Break and Enter Christmas. When the country's most deserving family was selected from the nominations, family members were ushered away from their home, which was then "broken into" and filled with presents.
When Mr Pearson arrived home with his children and discovered one box on the doorstep he was grateful, but when he entered the house he was blown away.
"My mum rung up [Thursday] night and said I had to go out there, and leave the door open. I was wondering what was going on but I had no idea. I get home this morning [Friday] and it was overwhelming. I was just hoping my wife would be here.
"When we got home there was just a little box on the doorstep. I was thinking that was it, but was just grateful to get something for free ... We went inside and it just blew me away," he said.
Inside were presents stacked high in almost all the rooms of the house. And seven bikes lined up in the living room, one for each child and one for Dad.
"It was just unexpected. I was quite speechless. We got a Christmas tree and heaps of presents. There was some in my room and some in my daughters' and sons' rooms. And food from Chrisco's and bikes and stockings just hung on the doors. I had to sneak around the corner and shed a bit of a tear. I was a bit worried [about Christmas] after what we just went through, so this is just overwhelming," he said.
The family was set to have a big Christmas celebration and Mr Pearson was thankful for the gifts and the support he had received.
"It was awesome, that's the word. It was wicked," he said.