All Blacks star Nehe Milner-Skudder has defended the choice to have a Māori man in a korowai arrive in Santa's sleigh during the Nelson Santa Parade earlier this week.
The Nelson parade's organiser has since apologised for the controversy over the incident.
Milner-Skudder wrote on Facebook today, "Man this Māori Santa "issue" is pretty ridiculous and personally I find it stupid that it's created such a frenzy".
"The main reason why I disagree with it is because I don't think Māori need to assimilate to Pākehā traditions.
"Santa is a white tradition and we can celebrate it in our own way that suits our culture. Conforming or assimilating to another culture is ultimately the reason why Māori culture is not as present in today's society."
He called for critics, including the AM Show host Duncan Garner, to be "mindful of the things they say" after they made comments which he called "just disrespectful and disgusting, really."
"You have a platform so you can have an opinion but you don't need to make certain comments.," he wrote.
"Saying things like "Māori don't own everything" is just disrespectful and disgusting, really. Of course we don't own everything, it was taken at colonisation and we've failed as a country to truly understand Māori culture and, in turn, that means we've failed to redress those wrongs."
Milner-Skudder concluded by saying that the reason for the non-traditional Santa was "multiculturalism, a positive thing", adding, "Maybe they got it wrong, but you definitely got it wrong with your response. It's people like you that hinder the positive moment".
"I feel like the comments and remarks that have come out have been far more damaging then the Santa himself."