Rob Herewini sits in Santa’s sleigh during the Nelson Santa Parade on Sunday. The absence of Santa has left many Nelsonians angry. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

City’s ‘sorry’ Santa saga


Nelson city is stepping in to make sure that local children get to see Santa in the CBD.

During Sunday’s Santa Parade, crowds were surprised to see that a traditional St Nick had been ditched in favour of a more multicultural ‘Hana Kōkō’ – the Maori equivalent.

The decision by Community Art Works, which organised the parade, sparked outrage online with some calling it ‘PC gone mad’ and ‘the death of Santa’.

Many said that their children were disappointed and confused at not seeing the jolly fat man in the red suit.

Event director Mark Soper said that organisers wanted to portray a multicultural Christmas but were “truly sorry that the parade did not live up to expectations and are saddened to hear so many people were disappointed”.

Mark told to RNZ and Nelson City Council that Nelson jeweller Glen James was due to play the role of Santa but pulled out after the controversy of his float at the Richmond Santa Parade.

Glen has angrily deigned this.

“I was bloody livid when I heard he had said that. I never had any role as Santa. I was asked about a month before the parade but said no because I had my own float. That was the last I had heard of it. To be honest I think he is passing the buck and trying to throw me under the bus. If you make a mistake, own it.”

Nelson mayor Rachel Reese says not having Santa at the Santa Parade was a bad call by organisers and now the council and local retailers are working to bring him to the city.

“My read of this is that the organisers got themselves into a muddle and forget to send a letter to Santa inviting him along,” she said. “So the deputy mayor and I thought we’d better send off a very special letter from the people of Nelson. We’ve had early advice from the head elf that he will do his best to get to Nelson early next week.”

“All of these lovely children in Nelson have been so good that they deserve a visit from Santa.”

She says a Santa grotto is likely to be set up on Bridge St, with the help of city retailers.

Rachel reiterated that the council does not organise the parade but felt that it should step in considering the circumstances.