'Māori Santa' set to appear at Wellington Christmas event after crowdfunding effort

Nelson's 'Māori Santa' is set to attend a Christmas festival event in Wellington's Aro Valley after two women invited him and crowdfunded his air fares.

Rob Herewini played the part of a Māori-inspired interpretation of Santa - Hana Kōkō - during the Nelson Christmas Parade on December 2.

His appearance prompted a backlash from some, who were upset that the traditional red-suited, white-bearded Santa Claus was not present.

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    Organisers say they were looking to introduce more art and culture into the event, and the council says staff have been absued over the issue. Source: 1 NEWS

    The parade's organiser later issued an apology, saying next year's parade would revert to a "traditional" depiction of Santa.

    Natasha Crombie and Lexi Taylor started an event page on Facebook called 'Bring Māori Santa To Welly!', which has garnered significant interest.

    Ms Crombie this morning confirmed that she has spoken with Mr Herewini, and said he has agreed to attend an event in Aro Valley's Aro Park on December 22.

    The event, called Summer Sounds, is a free public event, and Mr Herewini would be the "guest of honour", she said.

    Ms Crombie said the event was created as a show of support for Mr Herewini.

    "We welcome Santas from all walks of life, and we would like to show our appreciation," the event page says.

    The pair set up a Givealittle page to raise funds to get Mr Herewini to Wellington for the event, with any excess funds raised going straight to him and his family.

    The event's website is here.

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      When Rob Herewini agreed to be Nelson’s Polynesian inspired Santa he wasn’t aware how much backlash he would receive. Source: Marae