Thursday, 3 Dec 2020

Farewell Santa: Auckland’s big man on his way to Wanaka for retirement

Auckland’s giant Santa accompanied by two reindeer are aboard a three-truck convoy heading to a retirement home in Wanaka.

The Herald understands the big man and his friends left a yard at Silverdale on the North Shore under the cover of darkness last night for the 1500km journey to a museum in the Central Otago town.

A source said Santa and his friends are in 13 pieces and it is a mammoth job to transport him from one end of the country to another, including crossing Cook Strait by ferry.

Mystery has surrounded the whereabouts and future of Auckland’s giant Santa, who made his final appearance atop the Farmers building in Queen St last Christmas.

The big man who came out each festive season for the best part of 60 years.

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck has been giving nothing away about Santa’s new home, saying only: “We have some happy news to announce very soon about his future.”

“Keep your eyes peeled and you might just spot him on the move,” she said.

Santa has played a big role in the history of the Queen City.

The five-tonne, 18m Santa was built in 1960 by Farmers for its flagship store in Hobson St. At the time he was the world’s largest fibreglass Santa.

Since then, he has changed hands for $1, lost his wink and moving finger, and crowned the world’s creepiest Christmas ornament in 2011.

Between 1991 and 1996, Santa was relocated to Manukau Shopping Centre, but after being sold for $1 to special events executive Stephen Hanford he was returned to the Whitcoulls building in Queen St in 1998 after a $40,000 make-over.

Retirement beckoned in 2014, but the central city’s business association Heart of the City came to Santa’s rescue and he took pride of place atop the Farmers Building alongside two giant reindeer until it was time to say goodbye last year.

Last year, Beck said Santa was retiring for a number of reasons. They included the need for a fresh paint of the weary Father Christmas and his five-tonne frame costing $200,000 to store, maintain and assemble.

On January 10 this year, Santa hung up for his red coat for good.

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