Duncan Garner bashes Nelson's Māori Santa

"Māori don't have to own everything."

That's the blistering message from The AM Show host Duncan Garner, who's accusing Nelson of wrecking Santa with its "PC" attempt at being ethnically diverse.

The Nelson Santa Parade on Sunday descended into debacle after Santa and his traditional outfit were discarded for a de-bearded Māori man wearing a short-sleeved shirt and red korowai. It's a decision that's led to bitter divisions and recriminations.

"What a complete hoax and what a joke. Who was the person behind this?" Garner questioned on Monday. "Who was the person who decided that the Māori Santa, Mr Herewini, was the right man to be the Santa?

"You need to have a beard to have Santa, you need to have a Santa suit on. And sorry, turning up with a korowai? You got this so wrong, Nelson. You couldn't have been more wrong.

"The kids weren't there to see a Māori Santa. Santa's very different to Māori - Māori don't have to own everything. Santa is Santa, and Santa's not broken."

The Santa.
The Santa. Photo credit: Nelson Santa Parade / Facebook

His views are backed up by some eyewitnesses to the parade. One parent told Newshub the Māori Santa left children stunned and in tears.

"All these kids were dumbstruck really, you could hear the 'that's not Santa'," she told Newshub.

"Our six-year-old son burst into tears after the video finished. We had to explain to him that Santa was running late."

Garner blamed some "PC wally" and "woolly woofter" for the "stupid decision by Nelson".

"The kids are looking for Santa. It's not Waitangi Day," he said. "Santa is okay still as a fat white guy with a beard. Some things don't have to change."

But the Māori Santa also had its supporters, who do say it's "time for change".

"Who dictates what Santa looks like? He is actually depicted very different in different cultures. Good on you Nelson for embracing Kiwi culture," one commented on Facebook.