Santa Claus is a man and 'that's how it should be' - Simon Bridges

Just as Mary Poppins is a woman, Santa Claus is a man, says Simon Bridges.

The National Party leader has come down on the side of the traditionalists in the debate over whether Santa Claus could feasibly be played by a woman.

The organisers of Auckland's Santa Parade dropped their usual Santa this year, after he said he'd never hire a woman to play the North Pole-dwelling, elf-employing philanthropist with a magical sleigh.

Neville Baker also said female applicants would be hired, but only as Santa's helpers - and he'd dress them in a "little skirt and top".

Mr Bridges told The AM Show on Monday he was "okay" with Santa jobs only being given to men.

"I think it's just PC gone - I don't know if it's mad, but too far. You guys this morning are telling me that man didn't walk on the moon, now you're telling me Santa's a woman - I just want a few things I can believe in."

The Human Rights Commission says sex is a "prohibited ground of discrimination", but exceptions could be made for "reasons of authenticity".

"We've got discrimination rules and they're absolutely right, you know, whether it's gender, whether it's ethnicity," said Mr Bridges.

"But I think the truth is on Santa, this is a traditional thing. Mary Poppins is a woman, Santa Claus is a man. That's how it should be."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told The AM Show Mr Baker should not have lost his job for insisting on only hiring male Santas.

"I have actually seen woman Santas around the place. I think it's all a bit of a storm in a teacup."

Mr Goff said he had no power to force the Children's Christmas Parade Trust to hire a male Santa. The Children's Christmas Parade Trust ended up replacing Mr Baker with another man anyway.

Phil Goff.
Phil Goff. Photo credit: The AM Show

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said he saw Santa on Saturday, and he is "definitely a man".

"He's doing a good job."

The Auckland Christmas Parade was cancelled on Sunday due to poor weather. It has been rescheduled for next Sunday.