Even after all these years, Trevor Audain's eyes light up at the mention of Christmas and at the sight of a certain old red suit.

The 94-year-old Aucklander once played one very important role during the holidays - the big man himself: Santa Claus.

For almost 15 years, he worked as a Santa after responding to an ad put out by the Farmers Trading Company in 1984.

Former Farmers Trading Company Santa Claus Trevor Audain, 94, with his great-grandson Miller Calder, 5. Photo / Doug Sherring
Former Farmers Trading Company Santa Claus Trevor Audain, 94, with his great-grandson Miller Calder, 5. Photo / Doug Sherring

He worked in the Farmers retail store in downtown Auckland in those days.

Advertisement

He also appeared as the main Mr Claus at the annual Farmers Santa Parade - which celebrates its 85th birthday this week - as well as for the local Christmas parade in Howick.

This year's Farmers Santa Parade was postponed last Sunday due to bad weather and is now scheduled for Sunday.

Granddaughter Kristen Calder, now a parent herself, still remembers the days she and her siblings and cousins would be taken to see the man in red.

As young children, they knew there was something odd about Santa.

"I knew that it was Pop. With my name being Kristen, he used to pretend to get it wrong - he called me Kirsten and I used to hate it.

"I'd say: 'I know it's you, Pop!''

One of Audain's grandsons, aged about 8 at the time, would be the first to find real proof that their granddad was behind the fluffy white beard - after figuring out that Santa was wearing their Pop's wedding ring.

Trevor Audain, now 94, in a newspaper clipping as the big man in red. His grandchildren complain he deliberately mispronounced their names to not give the game away when they were taken to see Santa at Christmas. Photo / Doug Sherring
Trevor Audain, now 94, in a newspaper clipping as the big man in red. His grandchildren complain he deliberately mispronounced their names to not give the game away when they were taken to see Santa at Christmas. Photo / Doug Sherring

Audain, who has had a number of strokes over the years, now lives in a rest home in West Auckland.

Advertisement

But his long career as old St Nick is something he and his family still talk about frequently, as it is something their father and grandfather very much cherished, Calder said.

They have several scrapbooks filled with memories from Audain's days as Santa Claus - with old photos, newspaper clippings and letters from children.

Among the letters is one from a little girl who tells him off for not responding to her letter with a hand-written note.

Flipping through one of her grandfather's old scrapbooks, Calder finds the original newspaper ad her Pop responded to.

She also finds a note her granddad has written about his successful interview for the job and reveals he was paid $120 for one-and-a-half hours.

"That was pretty good money in 1984,'' Calder says to him.

"And then you've written: 'But really, the feeling of Christmas coming is now a reality for Santa'.''

Audain is quick to respond to his granddaughter when she asks him to do a "ho, ho, ho.''

"Ho, ho, ho, ho,'' Audain says merrily.

His granddaughter says: "Yeah - you've still got it!''