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Farmers ditch 'traditional' Santa following 'inappropriate' comments

Out with the old and in with the new. 

After five years of appearing as Santa Claus in Auckland's Farmers Santa Parade, Neville Baker will apparently be replaced on Sunday after he said he wouldn't hire women to play Father Christmas.

The My Santa director told the Herald on Sunday that he feels it is his responsibility to hire those who will give and authentic representation of a traditional Santa Claus.

"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."

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

As a result, Farmers announced they would no longer be working with 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," said Chairman of the Children's Christmas Parade Trust Michael Barnett.

However, just days before the event is set to take place on Queen Street, Mr Baker has not been informed of Farmers' decision to discontinue their relationship and he intends to show up and take his place on the float tomorrow.

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

"I will be attending the parade on Sunday."

A Human Rights Commision spokesperson said that sex is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Act.

But, under a number of circumstances, it is not unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of gender, if a role involves counseling on personal matters, or a combat role in the armed forces. 

The parade is set to start tomorrow at 1pm from Mayoral Drive, in Auckland city, and finish on Customs St East at 2.30pm, followed by Santa's Party in Aotea Square.

If the weather is torrential, a cancellation will be announced on Newstalk ZB after 10am tomorrow. The Parade will go ahead in light rain.

An alternate rain date will see the parade take place on Sunday December 2.

Santa float at Auckland parade Source: Supplied