NZ Santas' freedom of speech is upheld

Kiwi Santas will get to say whatever they like when greeting children, even the now controversial "ho, ho, ho".

Recruitment agent Westaff hit headlines in Australia after claims that Santa trainees had been told to replace their "ho, ho, hos" with "ha, ha, ha" as it might scare children and offend women.

Westaff Australia's national manager Glen Jansz told Adelaide's Sunday Mail claims there were concerns the term "ho" could be offensive were false but confirmed the edict had been issued.

"The reason behind that is we find that in some cases the little kids can get a little bit scared of the deep `ho, ho, hos' and we ask them to be mindful of keeping their voices to a lower level," he said.

Westaff New Zealand has no such qualms, claiming their Santas are trained to deal with anyone from the most brazen to the meekest of children and would make up their own minds as to the most appropriate phrase for each child.

The agency, which employs about 70 Santas in shopping centres nationwide, even included the traditional "ho, ho, ho" catchphrase in its advertisement on job-hunting website Seek.

- NZPA

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