10 Dec 2010

Auckland Santa turns 50

3:07 pm on 10 December 2010

A giant Santa that is used in central Auckland every Christmas is turning 50.

The two-tonne Father Christmas statue on Queen Street has been around since 1960 and stands almost 20 metres tall.

But Santa almost did not make it to his birthday. Last year, he had to have a major overhaul worth almost $250,000 to keep him looking spic and span.

Features such as his beckoning finger and winking eye have been replaced to give Santa what has been called a more cheery disposition.

Heart of the City says the birthday is a monumental occasion considering the Santa's uncertain futures during his lifetime.

Chief executive Alex Swney says Santa is an icon for the city that evokes fond memories for young and old.