Don Brash not a fan of Nelson's Māori Santa

Nelson's attempt at an ethnically diverse Santa has come under fire from Christmas conservatives, including Don Brash.

Appearing on The AM Show on Monday, the former National Party leader called the decision to drop the traditional Santa for an unconventionally-dressed Māori man "odd".

Images from the parade show a man without the customary red suit, red hat, white hair or white beard. Instead, a bare-faced Santa wore a short-sleeved shirt, a red korowai and carried a large fish-hook sceptre.

Dr Brash said while he initially wasn't opposed to a Māori Santa, he changed his mind upon seeing the images.

"It doesn't look remotely like a Santa, or anyone's conventional view of what a Santa is," he says.

"I'm not surprised the kids were puzzled."

Appearing alongside Dr Brash was advertising guru Vaughn Davis, who thought the Santa was "cool".

"If baby Jesus can be white, which is a bit weird when you think about it, Santa can be brown," he says.

"It's an evolving country. We're not in the northern hemisphere, it's not winter. Santa doesn't need to dress for a blizzard."

The Māori Santa scrap follows a week of debate over whether Santa could be a woman.