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Yes, there is a Santa - and he's scary -

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SHANE MACLEOD: To New Zealand now, where a giant Santa that has just been put up in the heart of
Auckland isn't bringing too much Christmas cheer. Complaints were made last year about the ageing
decoration, prompting the Auckland City Council to book Santa in for a face-lift.

Over the weekend he was lowered by crane into his usual position but his makeover is being kept
under wraps for a week. Large white bandages have been wrapped around his head.

New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports the bandages are scaring children and have prompted
one tourist to liken Auckland's Santa to Michael Jackson.

('Santa Claus is Coming to Town' playing)

KERRI RITCHIE: In Auckland Santa Claus has already come to town. He's 20 metres tall, made of
fibreglass, and he's standing outside a book shop in Queen Street. But it's what he's wearing with
his red and white suit which has everyone gasping.

American tourist Edward arrived in Auckland yesterday - he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw
Santa's face covered by big white bandages.

EDWARD: Yes Santa in bondage, it's a very funny thing. They just couldn't wait to bring it out it
seems. He does look kind of sad up there doesn't he?

KERRI RITCHIE: The decoration had seen better days. Last Christmas people complained to the council
about Santa's poor paint job, his creepy smile and his moving finger which was held together by
what looked like a giant band-aid. So for the past four months Santa has been under the knife.

Dreas and Elley von Vegt, who are on holiday from Holland, were a bit confused by the bandages.

DREAS VON VEGT: I've seen it, yes, but I don't know about what the meaning of that is.

ELLEY VON VEGT: He is 50 years old and he is like Michael Jackson.

KERRI RITCHIE: Like many people, 19-year-old student Ben Rushton stopped to take some photos of
Santa on his mobile phone.

BEN RUSHTON: It looks almost like it was abducted, or something, like Santa's not supposed to be
here so they sort of covered him up. If they're building excitement they're not doing it very well.

KERRI RITCHIE: For some children, Christmas shopping with mum has become a bit traumatic.
Eleven-year-old Paul is on holiday from Thailand.

PAUL: He's a bit scary. It's Santa with no face. It looks like another Santa.

KERRI RITCHIE: Is it the strangest Santa you've ever seen?

PAUL: Yes.

KERRI RITCHIE: What do you think is under the bandages?

PAUL: A scary face or an old man face.

KERRI RITCHIE: But the bandages didn't worry his nine-year-old sister Peach.

PEACH: What do you hope he looks like?

PEACH: Scary a bit.

KERRI RITCHIE: Their mum has been taking photos of the giant Santa. Just his feet, not the head.

So are you going to get some more photos taken with the Santa, the creepy Santa?

PAUL: Yes.

KERRI RITCHIE: Aucklander Phil McGrath had just finished doing his banking when he noticed the
face.

PHIL MCGRATH: He looks like he's had Botox. A bit of plastic surgery for Santa this year.

KERRI RITCHIE: Did you see him in previous years when he was a little rough around the edges?

PHIL MCGRATH: Oh yeah, yeah yeah.

KERRI RITCHIE: What was wrong with him?

PHIL MCGRATH: The eyes, the eyes were very freaky. It was very scary. I remember taking my niece
and we were standing in the same spot were standing now and she looked up at it and she started
crying.

KERRI RITCHIE: And it was that finger too.

PHIL MCGRATH: With the finger, it's limited range of movements telling you to come here. The finger
looks like it's actually been jammed in place now so it's not going to move.

What I think they should do is reveal it strip by strip each week of Christmas because you know on
those TV programs where they have the makeovers they're all bruised and battered and it gets better
as the weeks go by? I think that's what they should do with Santa.

KERRI RITCHIE: The bandages come off on Sunday and Phil McGrath is going to come down to Queen
Street for a look. He won't be bringing his niece.

PHIL MCGRATH: Well if they do it the way I want it in bandage by bandage with bruises and bumps
here and there I'll definitely be in for that.

SHANE MACLEOD: Auklander Phil McGrath, ending that report from Kerri Ritchie.