Auckland City Mission leaders say they were not aware of foreign tour groups at their Christmas lunch and have called for any "irresponsible" operator who may have sent one to offer a donation.
About 2800 people gathered at the Viaduct Events Centre on Tuesday for the charity lunch, with most guests arriving with tickets. About 200 people without tickets were let in after them.
TVNZ reported on Christmas Day that "a smattering of Chinese tourists on organised tours" had arrived, and showed city missioner Diane Robertson saying: "If somebody's turned up and is now looking at ... how we care for people, I'm not worried about that."
An outburst of concern followed online and on talkback radio. Several people said any such tour operators were taking advantage of Christmas charity.
Yesterday, Ms Robertson told the Herald she had been under the impression, when interviewed by TVNZ, that one South Korean visitor might have stumbled upon the lunch.
Ms Robertson said she had later heard - and only from the media - about a tour group possibly attending.
Volunteers had not reported anything and no sponsors had contacted her with concerns, she said.
But if any tour operator or cruise ship had sent groups to the lunch, it was irresponsible and she would wish they give money in return.
TVNZ showed footage of a table of about 10 older Asian people and its reporter attempting to speak to a woman.
Any tour operator who considers a Christmas lunch organised primarily for those with no-one to share the day with, or not enough food to have a decent kai has a distorted sense of what constitutes a tourist attraction. Sure; much of New Zealand is closed on Christmas Day, but charity tourism? No; that's just not right.