Shortages of Meals on Wheels drivers in South Auckland means volunteers are doing multiple shifts a week

15 April 2024

Four mornings a week, Mike and Maud Burke drive the short distance from their home in Papatoetoe to Middlemore Hospital to collect the meals for their Meals on Wheels run and then set off to deliver hot nutritious food to 18 people. The trip takes them one and a half hours a day. 

The duo work together - Maud drives and Mike hops in and out of the car to deliver the meals. “He’s very sociable and they look forward to his banter. Meanwhile, I manoeuvre the car for a quick get away to the next delivery,” says Maud. 

Mike says, “it’s good exercise and I like meeting people. Some of them we deliver to might not see anyone else all day, if it wasn’t for us.”

They both love their role. Maud’s been a New Zealand Red Cross volunteer driver for 30 years in South Auckland while Mike started 10 years ago - once he retired from their trucking business. 

“We go out four days a week because there aren’t enough volunteers to cover all shifts.” 

“You get to meet some wonderful people and we know the hot meals are appreciated. We’ve delivered to some people for more than 10 years. They become like extended family so you can feel like you're helping your own grandparents – that has to be a good thing,” says Maud. Mike adds that it’s also the little things they can do, “we’ve got one lady we go to and I fill up her bird bath every Tuesday and Thursday from roof water collected in a barrel”. 

Image of Moana Petero, Moana Petero, New Zealand Red Cross’ Meals on Wheels Co-ordinator for South Auckland

Moana Petero, Meals on Wheels Co-ordinator for South Auckland


More volunteers for South Auckland needed. Can you help?

Moana Petero, New Zealand Red Cross’ Meals on Wheels Co-ordinator for South Auckland says recruiting enough local volunteers in South Auckland has been a challenge. “We’re looking for around 70 more volunteers to fill the shifts.”  

“Maud and Mike have been fantastic helping us out so often and regularly,” she says. 

“If you’re local, have a car and can spare a couple of hours a week or fortnight during the working week, we’d love to hear from you. Our rosters are flexible and we provide training and support – and your fuel costs will be reimbursed. So, if you have any time in the late morning and would like to volunteer, please get in touch,” says Moana.  

There’s a critical need for volunteer drivers to deliver meals in Māngere Bridge, Māngere, Māngere East, Favona, Papatoetoe, Ōtara, Manukau City Centre, Ōtāhuhu and Mt Wellington. Red Cross would also be happy to hear from non-drivers if they’d be interested in partnering with a driver, so the runs could be completed more efficiently.  

“It’s an absolutely fabulous thing to do, especially for us as we’re not in employment anymore, and still fit and healthy - it's excellent,” says Maud. Mike agrees. “We get heaps more out of doing this than we put in. It’s meeting such a diverse range of people, and finding out what they did in their past is interesting. We’ve had a few 100-year-olds on our run, and still have one - when she turned one hundred, her extended family brought out a cake to celebrate and share with us!” 

“One man sits in his drive sometimes waiting for us and I hand his meal to him out of the car window – like a drive through,” says Mike.  

Maud Burke preparing to deliver Meals on Wheels

Maud and Mike have many stories to tell about their volunteering, but some really stick in their minds. “We delivered meals every day during COVID lock down because nobody else would do it. There wasn’t another car out there - we loved it. We did it safely of course - putting the meal in a box outside each door. That was a special time for us.”

The couple also delivered meals in the 2023 floods. Mike remembers the water was coming up to the car door sills. “I told Maud she’d have to get out and push if we stalled!”  

“Our volunteers are amazing,” says Moana. “Every day, I send them a little message to be safe on the road. They are the ones who deliver meals through wind, rain and sunshine – whatever the weather.” 

“Please join us and be part of our amazing team.”

More information

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer driver, and particularly if you live in South Auckland can apply online at or call our contact centre on 0800 RED CROSS (0800 733 27677)). We’d love to hear from you. 

We’re holding an online information session on Wednesday 24th April from 12pm to 12.30pm. Here’s the event information: 

Meals on Wheels Information Session - South Auckland (Facebook)

To access the session, simply click on the link at the top of this event where it says “join event” or if you’re having trouble here is the URL:

Launch Meeting (Zoom)

If you’d like to know more about New Zealand Red Cross, please go to

Header image: Mike and Maud Burke, New Zealand Red Cross Meals on Wheels volunteers, South Auckland.