Charity-based Secret Santa springs to life on New Zealand Twitter

A charity-based Secret Santa has sprung to life on New Zealand Twitter, after NZ Post announced it would not be facilitating the annual NZ wide tradition in 2018.

The Secret Santa, which took place on Twitter for the past eight years, involved users purchasing a gift for other users and receiving one from another unknown user.

It was run by WebSam in 2010 and 2011 before NZ Post took over. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern famously took part in 2017.

The new Secret Santa account appeared on December 14, but didn't start posting charity donations until December 21, when it began posting along with the hashtag #nzsecrectsantasubstitute.

The idea is that a Twitter user can make a donation to a charity on behalf of another Twitter user and notify the Secret Santa account.

The Secret Santa account will then make a tweet notifying the user who has been donated on behalf of about the gift.

One of the multiple anonymous administrators of the account told Newshub the idea began in 2016 when they bought a gift for Twitter user Nic Murray's husband in the original Secret Santa.

"I came across Nic and loved the awesome work she was doing [with charity Good Bitches Baking] so I made a donation to Whare Manaaki - Porirua Women's Refuge in her honour," they said.

The administrator did it again in 2017, and in 2018 when there was no official Secret Santa they set up the account to let them know they would be doing it again.

"When [Felix Geiringer] tweeted he'd like to do something similar and encouraged others to do the same, I offered to be the messenger and it sort of spiralled from there! The #nzsecretsantasubstitute hashtag was [Mr Geiringer's] idea."

Not all of the donations have been completely in the Christmas spirit though. Some aim to make fun of people by donating to charities the person being donated on behalf of may not support.

A different anonymous administrator of the account told Newshub that at first they were willing to accept these donations, but now people are being asked to choose a different person to donate on behalf of.

The account even tweeted to its followers and asked them to make sure the person being donated on behalf of would appreciate it.

"There are lots of lovely people on Twitter who would LOVE to receive a surprise gift tweet so let's keep this all friendly and choose someone who will genuinely smile and get the warm and fuzzies," it said.

The administrator told Newshub the account doesn't ask for receipts or proof the donations have been made but a lot of the submissions have been sent with some anyway.

"We've been willing to trust people and they've all seemed genuine. People have been contacting us using their non-anonymous accounts. So we know who they are," they said.

Based upon the tweets, if all the money specified has made it to the charities being donated to then at least $2000 has been raised so far.

Well-known Kiwis have popped up a few times in the stream of donations, including politicians Chloe Swarbrick and Simon Bridges. They received donations for Kereru Discovery and the Auckland City Mission, respectively.

Most of the charities donated to have been women and rainbow-focussed, even discounting earlier joke donations, the administrator said.

Donations had been coming in thick and fast all day and the administrator said they were shocked by the number of people who had taken part.

"The response has been great. Still, this doesn't scratch the surface of what is needed in our community. A useful feature, perhaps, is exposing all the great charities that exist and need support."