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Neville Baker has been the Farmers Santa Parade Santa for the past few years. He runs My Santa, a...
Neville Baker has been the Farmers Santa Parade Santa for the past few years. He runs My Santa, a recruitment company that specialises in training and placing professional Santas. Photo: NZ Herald
Farmers is ditching its longstanding Santa for tomorrow's Christmas parade in Auckland, after the man behind the beard said he wouldn't hire women to play Father Christmas.

My Santa director Neville Baker last weekend told the Herald on Sunday he does not cast any female applicants for the role of Santa.

"They apply, and you say, 'have you misread the ad?' Putting politically correct things to one side, there's a certain character people expect to find when they come to meet Santa," Baker said.

For the past five years, Baker has personally played Santa on the main float in the Farmers Santa Parade, and was booked to do so again on Sunday.

However, in the wake of Neville's comments, Farmers has announced it is no longer employing their Santa through the My Santa company.

"We are distancing ourselves from this company. We found his comments to be inappropriate and unnecessary and will be not using their services for the parade," Chairman of the Children's Christmas Parade Trust Michael Barnett said.

However, last night, Baker said he had not heard from Farmers and insisted he would turn up as usual.

"I'm not aware to any change in my arrangement. It's news to me I've got no communication of that," Baker said.

"I will be attending the parade on Sunday."

Auckland's Santa parade takes place tomorrow. Photo: NZ Herald
Auckland's Santa parade takes place tomorrow. Photo: NZ Herald
Pressed on whether he would be attending the parade as Farmers Santa, Baker replied: "Why else would I go to a parade? I'm not a kid."

Earlier this week Baker had defended his boys-only stance.

"It is my responsibility that the people hired to perform the character of Santa Claus are able to be as authentic as possible in order to provide the best possible experience for children."

Baker said he took this responsible seriously, and only hired those who he believed could perform a "believable and accurate" representation of a traditional Santa.

"For those reasons I have no plans to change the way I operate my business in the foreseeable future."

A spokesperson for the Human Rights Commission said sex was a "prohibited ground of discrimination" under the Act.

But there were a number of circumstances where it would not be unlawful to discriminate on the ground of gender, like if the role involved counselling on personal matters, or a combat role in armed forces.

"For reasons of authenticity" was also included in the list.

Comments

What Idiots the decision makers at Farmers are. Santa is also known as Father Christmas. Father is a male. Woolly Woofter award of the decade right here.

is this serious!? surely its fair to only recruit males for the role of 'father' xmas.

does farmers recruit men for the lingerie department?

I hope Mr Barnett is not an example of the calibre of people employed by Farmers. If he is, they're as pathetic as he and his comments are. Penalising Mr Baker for voicing his opinion and exercising his right to free speech in a free Country is petty and ridiculous. Oh .... New Zealand is a free Country, Isn't it?

Tradition and common sense dictate that Santa Claus i.e. Father Christmas, should only be depicted by a man. Similarly, I believe that Mrs Claus should only be depicted by a woman.

Wake up Farmers, move Mr Barnett sideways and put an intelligent sensible person in that position.

What an absolutely stupid idea sacking some one for not having a female Santa. You would have young children confused with a female Santa. Or is this the way of Auckland thinking! I thought Mr Barnett had more sense.

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