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Controversial Santa hits back at Nelson parade: Shouldn't stray from tradition

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald ,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Monday, 3 December 2018, 9:49AM
Facebook users defended the parade for using a Māori Santa without the traditional Santa kit. Photo / via Facebook

The Nelson Christmas Parade has caused a stir after the Santa wore a red korowai and graced his sleigh with a microphone and taiaha.

The non-traditional Santa outfit has split Nelsonians, with one little girl remarking, "it's definitely not Santa".

Neville Baker, who was initially dismissed as Santa from Auckland's Christmas Parade after he made what organisers labelled "inappropriate" comments, told Mike Hosking Santa shouldn't stray from tradition.

Baker was reinstated for yesterday's parade at the last minute and appeared as Santa, as he had for the previous five years.

"Santa Claus, I think all the little children and even the older children, come along to a parade or a mall and can see a man in a red suit and he has a Santa hat and beard and they don't have to be told who Santa is because they can see him."

"It's pretty straightforward and it's been going on for years, ever since old St Nick himself went around the streets and helped the poor children put on a colourful robe which was bright colours, purl and yellows. Until Coco Cola came along and promoted the red suit and it's been that way every since."

"I don't think I've ever come across a Santa Claus character that hasn't had the beard so if that part is missing, Santa isn't quite complete.

"That's what people expect. That's the picture that has been painted. That's what people come to see."

Auckland Santa Neville Baker says Santa shouldn't stray from tradition. Photo / Jason OxenhamAuckland Santa Neville Baker says Santa shouldn't stray from tradition. Photo / Jason Oxenham

A video of the Nelson Santa's float shows Father Christmas missing even his trademark hat.

The woman who shot the video told the Herald she had waited for Santa's float but "never realised it was Santa".

"I'm 75 years old today as well lol. Tricked at my age. How's that."

The big man should always be wearing a traditional costume, she said.

"The children I saw just did not accept the person on the sleigh as their beloved Santa."

Facebook users took to the Nelson Santa Parade page to share their opinions, most comments focusing on the star of the show never turning up.

"It's like going to a beer fest and there is no beer. There will be dissatisfaction. Go to a Santa parade and no Santa is very very sad," one Facebook user wrote.

"I'm pleased I never took my children to the very non-Santa parade, Nelson gets more pathetic & embarrassing each year," another said.

However, other Facebook users defended the parade for using a Māori Santa without the traditional Santa kit.

"Who dictates what Santa looks like? He is actually depicted very different in different cultures. Good on you Nelson for embracing kiwi culture," one said.

"Santa is not real, people. How long are we going to keep up with the lie to our impressionable children and stop supporting commercialism?" a user asked.

"It's time to give it a new name to embrace the magic of coming together and giving the gift of our presence at this time of the year. Time for change."

Another said it was "bout time they had a Māori Santa!!!"

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