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Santa: should he stay or should he go?

Media release

Santa: should he stay or should he go?

Auckland icon or dodgy old man? Debate is raging in downtown Auckland about what’s in store for Queen Street’s Santa.

CBD lobby group Heart of the City is asking Aucklanders to tell it whether or not Santa should return to his lofty perch in 2009.

The Queen Street Santa has stood atop Auckland CBD buildings since 1960. His first roost was on Farmers’ Hobson Street store, and since 1998, Santa has occupied a prime position on the Whitcoulls building on the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets.

That’s aside from a short visit to Manukau City Shopping Centre in 1997 of course.

Nowadays Santa keeps an unblinking watch - his winking eye has been turned off - over the Christmas shoppers above one of New Zealand’s busiest streets.

Standing almost 25 metres tall, Santa is loved by many as an icon of the festive season. Santa has represented the tradition and magic of Christmas for hundreds of thousands of Auckland children for more than four decades.

But there are doubters. Some are saying Santa’s beckoning finger hardly befits a southern hemisphere festive season dedicated to kiddies.

In 2008, Auckland’s CBD has been transformed with a host of new decorations that reflect an appropriate sense of the modern Kiwi Christmas.

“Downtown Auckland City has a huge variety of retail shops, excellent bars and top-class restaurants – we’ve complemented that by making the cityscape interesting and relevant for everyone who visits,” says CEO of Heart of the City Alex Swney.

“The question is: does Santa fit with all that? We want Aucklanders to tell us if they think Santa should stay or take a well-earned retirement.”

A recent Close Up phone-in poll revealed strong support for keeping Santa. When asked “should the city pay $55,000 to keep him?”, 61.34% of respondents (3,192 votes) agreed to keep Santa and 38.66% (2,012 votes) wanted to get rid of him.

Heart of the City is seeking feedback on Santa’s future, those who want a say can email info@hotcity.co.nz

“We’re happy for Aucklanders to tell us what they want for next Christmas. Is Santa an iconic Auckland institution or a sad old dodgy man?” says Mr Swney.



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