The organisers of Auckland's Santa Parade have sacked the man who played Santa Claus after he told a newspaper he wouldn't cast a woman in the role.
The man behind the Santa beard in New Zealand's biggest Christmas parade has been dumped after saying you couldn't have a Kris Kringle with "boobs".
Neville Baker has worn the red suit for the starring role in Auckland's Santa Parade the past four years but organisers have caused a stir by replacing him over comments they say are unbefitting of a children's icon.
Last week 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 had pushed organisers to go with a different Santa provider for Sunday's event.
"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 sparked online debate on Saturday, with some calling for a reinstatement.
Comment has been requested from Mr Baker, who earlier told media he had not heard about the change.