Christmas in New Zealand
The World’s Creepiest Christmas Ornament
Giant Santa has been greeting New Zealand Christmas shoppers for more than 50 years. He first appeared in 1960 at the corner of Hobson and Wyndham street in Auckland. The statue, which is constructed of steel and fibreglass tubes, weighs more than 5 tonnes. He was the brainchild of Farmers department store, who were looking for an eye-catching and elaboratewith a lot of detail/parts way to encourage Aucklanders into their store to do their Christmas shopping. With his beckoningto move your head or hand in way that tells someone to come nearer finger and winking eye, Giant Santa invited shoppers into the department store for 30 consecutivefollowing each other continuously years. In that time, he became a much-loved icon of Auckland’s Christmas calendar.
However, Giant Santa’s future was thrown into uncertainty in the 1990s when the Farmers department store building was sold. Santa was given a temporary home at a neighbouring shopping centre but was ultimatelyfinally, in the end packed into a warehouse and left to rotdecay. By the time Stephen Hanford purchased Santa for $1 in 1998, the statue had fallen into a state of disrepair. Hanford and various other donorsa person who gives money or good to an organisation went on to spend $40,000 renovating Santa before giving him a new home on the facade of Whitcoulls - a book, stationery and toy shop. Unfortunately, the rising cost of storage, transportation, and maintenance for 59 ft (18 metre) statue, which had soaredrise very quickly to over $55,000 a year, was too much for Whitcoulls. Giant Santa was donated to the city of Auckland. And so Santa’s fate hung in the balance once more.
The city of Auckland ponderedthink carefully about something whether the Aucklanders would be willing to foot the bill for the oversized Christmas ornament. Newspapers and television stations ran opinion polls whilst pro- and anti-Santa facebook groups campaigned to keep or abandon the now 48-year-old statue. Some believed that the winking statue with his beckoning finger was outdated. They had come to view Santa as a creepy old man. Others campaigned that tradition reigns supreme and that Giant Santa was an integralnecessary and important part of the cultural landscape in Auckland.
Eventually, the decision was made to keep Giant Santa. The Auckland city council believed that 50 years of Christmas tradition was a significant achievement in a country as young as New Zealand and therefore worth continuing. A whoppingextremely large $100,000 was invested in restoring and updating Santa’s look. Gone are the beckoning finger and droopy winking eye which many people had found so displeasingmake someone unhappy or annoyed. However, it seems that some things may never change: despite the facelift, Auckland’s Giant Santa was crowned “World's Creepiest Christmas Ornament” in 2011 by a popular American website. Creepy or not, he continues to greet and delight the inhabitants of Auckland every Christmas. Google Auckland’s Giant Santa and decide for yourself!