News World Mary Christmas? Kiwi Santa gets the shove for ‘sexist refusal’ to let women play Kris Kringle

Mary Christmas? Kiwi Santa gets the shove for ‘sexist refusal’ to let women play Kris Kringle

Auckland's veteran Santa Neville Baker has been told his services are no longer wanted. Photo: Newstalk ZB
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The man behind the Santa beard in New Zealand’s biggest Christmas parade has been told he’s naughty, not nice, for saying women shouldn’t be allowed to play the red-suited spirit of Christmas good cheer.

Neville Baker, who has worn the red suit for the starring role in Auckland’s Santa Parade the past four years, was bounced by organisers who say his discriminatory rhetoric doesn’t set a good example for children.

Last week Mr Baker, who runs a Santa recruitment and training agency, told the NZ Herald he wouldn’t employ women to play Father Christmas because he wanted to make the experience as authentic as possible for children.

“We employ [women as] Santa’s Little Helpers, and they wear a little skirt and top … but I wouldn’t put a guy in a skirt and top, right?” he said

“Let alone kids saying ‘Santa’s got boobs, mum’.”

Children’s Christmas Parade Trust chair Michael Barnett said the tone of the comments pushed organisers to go with a different “Santa provider”.

“It didn’t feel appropriate, the comments didn’t suit the values of a children’s event,” he told AAP.

“The choice of agency was ours … Nobody should notice a difference, there will still be a Santa there.”

The decision has sparked a heated debate, with some calling for a reinstatement.

On his company’s website, Mr Baker boasts of bringing professionalism to the North Pole.

“Company Director Neville Baker has been active in the providing of Christmas cheer for many years and is noted for his most entertaining and thorough professionalism in the role of Santa,” he crows.

Mr Baker told reporters that he did not know he had been fired until they informed him he was out of a job.

-with AAP

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